National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


E-Verify: A Veritable Disaster

September 14, 2011

Washington, D.C. —The House Judiciary Committee tomorrow will consider two bills, the Legal Workforce Act and the American Specialty Agriculture Act, both sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).  The Legal Workforce Act would require all employers to use the controversial E-Verify electronic worker verification system. The American Specialty Agriculture Act would enable agricultural producers to import hundreds of thousands of farmworkers under relaxed worker protection standards. Following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.


“Representative Smith continues to press for a mandatory E-Verify system despite growing objections from agriculture, small business and foes of big government.


This coupling of bills by Mr. Smith is a transparent attempt to buy off the agricultural industry which relies on undocumented workers to pick the crops we eat and package them for market.


Instead of pushing a plan that will harm the American economy, the Representative from Texas should support the solution that’s been pending in Congress for years - the Agricultural Jobs Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act. This measure, which is the product of an agreement reached between farm workers and farm owners, would allow farmers to keep their experienced but undocumented workers, giving them legal status so they can stay, continue working and paying taxes, benefitting the U.S. economy.


If Rep. Smith’s one-two punch carries the day, the impact on the American economy will be profound. Forcing employers to use this not-ready-for-prime-time electronic database is expected to cost small businesses more than $2.5 billion, according to a recent report by Bloomberg Government. It will result in an estimated 750,000 authorized workers to lose their jobs, according to projections based on current error rates. 


Forcing E-Verify on to employers, without broader reform of the immigration system, will drain the U.S. treasury of $17 billion over 10 years, as employers would be expected to pay more workers off the books, according to the Congressional Budget Office.


We cannot afford these costs when the economy is so shaky. As the Wall Street Journal suggested in a September 13th editorial about Representative Smith’s two bills, instead of layering more government bureaucracy on America’s businesses, Representative Smith should ‘acknowledge that the best way to reduce illegal immigration is for the government to provide wider avenues for legal immigration.’”


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