Jobs for Americans. Right now. That’s the promise of E-Verify.
Authored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-Tex.), the bill requiring employers to electronically verify the Social Security number and identity of job applicants passed out of the House Judiciary Committee (which Smith chairs) last week on a 22-to-13 vote. House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) has yet to schedule a full House vote. He should do so at the earliest time. E-Verify is a jobs bill that will actually create millions of jobs for Americans.
While federal law currently requires employers to hire only citizens or legal residents, an estimated 8 million illegals hold jobs today in the U.S. because of a lack of an effective method to enforce the law. E-Verify provides that method—an Internet-based link from the employer to the Social Security database that nearly instantly determines whether the SS number matches the identity of the job applicant.
As recently as 2008, the Social Security Administration found that names and SS numbers did not match on nearly 9 million W-2 forms submitted by employers to document employees’ wages for that year. While mistakes in data entry account for a few of these “no-match” cases, nearly all of these workers presented fake or stolen SS numbers, and were illegally in the country and not eligible to work here.
While this new law would make E-Verify mandatory for all employers, the program is currently offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration as a free, voluntary service for employers. According to the DHS website, more than 238,000 employers are enrolled in voluntary E-Verify, and about 1,500 new employers join every week.
Open border advocates decry mandatory E-Verify as discrimination. They are right. Jobs in America should go to American citizens and those legally residing here. E-Verify is more humane than the bipartisan enforcement methods of past eras. Both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower physically rounded up and deported illegal aliens when recessions hit the economy, to preserve American jobs for Americans.
The Democrat Party opposes E-Verify because it would work. Illegals are here for the jobs and pay they can’t find in their own countries. Barred from those jobs, illegals would go home, just as illegals have left states, such as Arizona, which already have mandatory E-Verify. The fact of these undocumented Democrat voters going home before the 2012 election could put Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, among other states, back in the Republican column.
Some employers (and large Republican donors) also oppose E-Verify because it would work. Many businesses can only stay in business (remember, I live in California) because of the cheap labor costs of hardworking illegals. Many illegal workers are paid in cash, particularly if they work for an employer who is also an illegal.
Mandatory E-Verify levels the playing field by making all employers follow the law and fill jobs with eligible Americans and legal residents. The current advantage held by companies who do not participate in the voluntary program and continue to exploit illegal workers would evaporate when mandatory E-Verify went into effect.
Opponents of E-Verify also say that some illegals do work that legal workers will not do—although there is less of this reluctance as the recession grinds on. Take, for example, the meatpacking plants that were raided and had their illegals deported. The meatpacking companies maintained that no one else but illegals would do that work. When the jobs opened up after the raids, Americans formed long lines to get the work.
I’ve also heard Republicans oppose E-Verify as another regulatory burden on employers. The minute-and-a-half it takes to electronically verify the information on the employee’s I-9 form is about the time it takes to verify your credit card at a point of purchase. Not much of a burden, with a big payoff in job creation. And with President Obama and the Democrats opposed to E-Verify in deference to their illegal alien base, the political benefit to Republicans is obvious.
Agribusiness opposes E-Verify. Since the death of the Bracero Program, which legally allowed seasonal workers from Mexico to harvest American crops, farmers have relied heavily on illegals. Farmers are pushing for AgJobs—an exception to mandatory E-Verify. Farmers, more than most employers, can make the case that Americans will not do the field and harvest work at the low pay that illegals will.
What agribusiness doesn’t want the public to know is that there already is a legal way to get foreign workers. The rub is that this program requires higher pay, sanitary facilities, housing, etc, for legal seasonal workers—and therefore costs more than simply hiring illegals, who work for less, live in the canyon next to the field in makeshift camps, cook over open fires during fire season, and make the habitat their toilet.
Rep. Smith deserves support. E-Verify is the jobs bill that really produces jobs for Americans. Speaker Boehner must call for the full House vote. Stand up for American jobs for Americans.