National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


House Hearings to Shed Light on Flawed Immigration Proposals

May 19, 2008

Washington, DC - Today, the Social Security subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee will hold a hearing on Employment Eligibility Verification Systems and the Potential Impacts on SSA's Ability to Serve Retirees, People with Disabilities, and Workers.  This is first in a series of House hearings related to mandatory Electronic Employment Verification Systems.   The following is a statement by Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication and spokesman for the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy organization based in Washington, DC.

These hearings on the impact of mandatory electronic employment verification systems are welcome and we are pleased that several committees will be examining the various proposals introduced in the House.  The more scrutiny these proposals get, the more likely it is that House Members and the public will reject them.

Legislating in an election year, especially on immigration-related matters, is more like Kabuki theater than serious policy deliberation.  Members want to send election signals in order to insulate themselves against 30-second attack ads or arm themselves with 10-second sound bites.  However, underneath the election-year posturing are real policies that will affect millions of Americans who have nothing to do with immigrants and immigration.

Whether in Arizona or Prince William County, Virginia, or on Capitol Hill, most of what sounds sensible on immigration at first glance can't withstand a closer inspection. Quick fix proposals, whether they are for REAL ID, a fence stretching across our southern border, or a Bureau of Employment and Identity Verification, turn out to be budget-busting overreach that harms our economy and fiscal health and goes far beyond the realm of immigration.  Today's hearing on the impact of what is supposed to be an immigration bill on U.S.-born seniors and the disabled is just the latest example. 

We hope these hearings and the ones that follow underscore the point we have been making for years—immigration is a complicated problem that requires complicated solutions.  The framework of that solution has been clearly outlined in the last two years of debate.  Now, the question is whether those committed to reform can outflank those interested in immigration only as a political football and wedge issue to actually fix the system for the American people.

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