On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding the mandatory use of E-Verify: the controversial bill that would require businesses to check potential employees’ Social Security Numbers against government databases in hopes of preventing undocumented individuals from working in this country.
The House Judiciary Committee voted for the bill to move to the House of Representatives for a full floor vote. The bill is particularly interesting as it has created a variety of strange bed fellows on both sides of the debate. Typically, supporters of mandatory E-Verify are Republicans/Conservatives while those opposed to E-Verify are Democrats/Liberals. However, different alliances are being formed on this issue which shows that E-Verify is more than an immigration bill, but rather a bill that has potential ramifications to impact the entire economy.
Although E-Verify is opposed by many Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration, certain Tea Party leaders have also begun to show their opposition to E-Verify as well. The Huffington Post noted that certain Tea Party groups including Take Back Washington, Tea Party Nation, and Liberty Coalition have been vocal about their opposition to E-Verify. The Tea Party Activists believe that E-Verify is simply an overstepping of the powers of federal government as it makes employers play the role of enforcers of government policy. Tea Party activists also believe it creates a national ID system. Rep Lou Barletta (R-PA) has recently spoken out about the loss of state rights because of the E-Verify Program.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) is one of a growing number of Congressional Republicans who is also starting to express their concern with the bill because of economic reasons. His fears center on how E-Verify could potentially hurt California’s agriculture sector. Lungren still maintains support for E-Verify, but wants to see an increase in temporary agriculture visas if mandatory E-Verify becomes law. Even the leading Republican presidential contender, Rick Perry (R-TX) previously stated that E-Verify “would not make a hill of beans difference in what’s happening today.”
There’s not only conservative divide over E-Verify either. A Liberal House Democrat from Oregon, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Or) has broken party line and is a supporter of E-Verify. DeFazio believes that that all employers who hire illegal immigrants should be fined $5,000. Oddly, DeFazio is a staunch supporter of the DREAM Act and has been accused of having a double standard on immigration.
Even our President is unclear as to how he views E-Verify. Obama has repeatedly said that he has opposed E-Verify. But when asked last week if he would veto mandatory E-Verify legislation, Obama dodged the question.
Many business leaders have also expressed their concern over E-Verify. Alex Nowraseth of the Huffington Post highlighted the high cost of businesses for E-Verify. According to Nowraseth, over 12% of employees screened by high tech giant Intel received a tentative nonconfirmation(TNC) to being ineligible to work in the United States. Although these employees were eventually cleared to work, Intel directly cited a loss in economic and financial productivity. Although a large business such as an Intel may be able to handle the costs associated with an E-Verify TNC, small businesses likely cannot.
As the debate around E-Verify centers around so many issues including immigration, business and commerce, and the police power of the federal government, it isn’t surprising that different groups have become strange bed fellows on this issue. However, it is time for Congressional leaders to realize that E-Verify has too many problems associated with it and too much likelihood for error. Rather than wasting the time and efforts of businesses and potentially targeting innocent individuals because of computer error, E-Verify must be scrapped all together.
Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.