Dueling E-Verify Bills: House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith versus California Governor Jerry Brown

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

September 20, 2011

Over the next few days, the House Judiciary Committee will continue to mark up Chairman Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 2885, that will make E-Verify mandatory for employers. The strong probability is that the committee will pass Smith’s bill with few substantive changes and that it will then squeak past the Senate and be signed by President Obama.

First though, they’ll be heated discussions. Among the Democratic committee members are some of the most hard core House pro-immigration advocates including California’s Howard Berman, Zoe Lofgren, Maxine Waters, Judy Chu and Linda Sánchez. The non-Californians led by ranking member John Conyers are no day at the beach either. Their mission is to throw as many roadblocks as possible at the bill with the hope that if they somehow prevail, illegal immigrants will still be able to get and keep jobs.

Far away from Capitol Hill in California, the Latino Legislative Caucus has presented pro-alien, ultra-liberal Governor Jerry Brown with what’s laughingly titled the Employment Acceleration Act. The bill, currently awaiting Brown’s signature, would forbid employers including private businesses as well as state and local governments from using E-Verify. If the bill becomes law, California cities that currently use E-Verify must immediately stop.

Despite the state’s staggering 12.1 percent unemployment rate, second nationwide only  to Nevada’s 13.4 percent, California’s legislators prefer to guarantee that employed illegal aliens will be able to keep their jobs or fearlessly apply for the few available positions (and thus deny an American or legal immigrant the opportunity to take it).

Common sense dictates that Brown would veto the bill. California is in its umpteenth year of a massive multibillion dollar deficit with no end in sight. As a result, teachers have suffered through widespread layoffs, entitlements have been drastically reduced and prisoners released early. But in California, when the subject involves making life easier for aliens, logic rarely plays a role.

California’s Employment Acceleration Act is on a collision course with Smith’s bill. In a statement about the two bills, Smith said:

"California has the second-highest unemployment rate in the U.S., yet elected officials in Sacramento just sent a bill to the Governor's desk that will further diminish job opportunities. California's E-Verify opt-out bill shows exactly why we need a federal E-Verify law."

Brown’s signature is probable but by no means certain. One temporizing factor is California’s recall provision that allows for removing the governor in a special election should enough registered voters’ signatures be collected, about 1.2 million. Finding 1.2 million Californians angry enough over not only the Employment Acceleration Act but also the DREAM Act, unemployment, taxes and eroded home equity might be easier than Brown thinks.

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