National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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Economy Needs Real Jumpstart, Not Red Herring

February 09, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas

 


February 9, 2009


 


As Congress engages in a grueling back and forth debate over what should and should not be included in the stimulus package, some politicians opted for a proposal that would not only fail to stimulate the economy but would weaken businesses and lead to further job losses.  This troublesome amendment requires all businesses and other public or private "entities" that receive money from the stimulus package to use the flawed federal E-Verify program.


 


We have consistently criticized any expansion of this work-eligibility program in its current form mainly because — as shown by three different House committees in five separate hearings — it is deeply flawed, inaccurate, and creates substantial new burdens for businesses, especially small businesses. And we are not the only ones who think this way, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal voiced the same concern today in a piece appropriately titled “The Last Thing Employers Need – A screening program that doesn’t work”:


 


“In 2007, DHS commissioned an independent study of E-Verify, which concluded that "the database used for verification is still not sufficiently up to date to meet the requirements for accurate verification." The error rate was almost 10% for foreign-born U.S. citizens. 


(…)


But two weeks ago Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the Administration would delay the [federal contractors] rule until May 21 "to see what needs to be done to increase the capacity for the E-Verify system." If the Obama Administration is concerned that the program will buckle under the demands of 168,000 or so federal contractors, E-Verify certainly doesn't belong in a stimulus package that would require the system to determine the job eligibility of tens of millions of new hires. (The Last Thing Employers Need, February 9, 2009


 


As we have stated time and time again, the current shortcomings of the voluntary implementation of the E-Verify program prove that it is not ready for prime time.


 


Unfortunately, some politicians cannot unlearn their old ways. The outdated tactics of playing politics with immigration is too tempting. This is what House Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) offers instead (as stated in an op-ed piece in The Washington Times):


 


“Congress should not just extend E-Verify; it should mandate the program for all businesses with more than five employees and make it permanent.” (Smith: Keep E-Verify System, February 8, 2009)


 


This is yet another attempt by restrictionists to use immigration as a wedge that meddles with the original purpose of this legislation: stimulate the economy by creating new jobs.


 


In November, the American public voted for leaders that would offer solutions rather than a patchwork approach for today’s challenges. As the Wall Street Journal editorial points out, sneaking immigration enforcement measures in an economic recovery package would not resolve our current immigration troubles:


 


“But simply cracking down on employers isn't the answer, especially when such efforts aren't coupled with expanding the authorized work force. (…) Most U.S. employers don't have a problem with being held accountable for the workers they hire, so long as the government is providing them with the proper tools to abide by the law. E-Verify clearly doesn't meet that standard, and until it does the program ought to remain voluntary.


 


“Work-site enforcement should be part of a broader immigration debate, not something slipped into a stimulus bill to placate protectionists.”


 


 

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