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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: November 19, 2003 (House)]
[Page H11582-H11586]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr19no03-136]                         



 
        BASIC PILOT PROGRAM EXTENSION AND EXPANSION ACT OF 2003

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass 
the Senate bill (S. 1685) to extend and expand the basic pilot program 
for employment eligibility verification, and other purposes.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                S. 1685

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Basic Pilot Program 
     Extension and Expansion Act of 2003''.

     SEC. 2. EXTENSION OF PROGRAMS.

       Section 401(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
     Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1324a note) is 
     amended by striking ``6-year period'' and inserting ``11-year 
     period''.

     SEC. 3. EXPANSION OF THE BASIC PILOT PROGRAM.

       (a) In General.--Section 401(c)(1) of the Illegal 
     Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 
     (8 U.S.C. 1324a note) is amended by inserting after ``United 
     States'' the following: ``, and the Secretary of Homeland 
     Security shall expand the operation of the program to all 50 
     States not later than December 1, 2004''.
       (b) Report.--Section 405 of the Illegal Immigration Reform 
     and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1324a 
     note) is amended--
       (1) by striking ``The'' and inserting:
       ``(a) In General.--The'', and
       (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(b) Report on Expansion.--Not later than June 1, 2004, 
     the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the 
     Committees on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives 
     and the Senate a report--
       ``(1) evaluating whether the problems identified by the 
     report submitted under subsection (a) have been substantially 
     resolved; and
       ``(2) describing what actions the Secretary of Homeland 
     Security shall take before undertaking the expansion of the 
     basic pilot program to all 50 States in accordance with 
     section 401(c)(1), in order to resolve any outstanding 
     problems raised in the report filed under subsection (a).''
       (c) Conforming Amendments.--Section 402(c) of the Illegal 
     Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 
     (8 U.S.C. 1324a note) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (2)(B), by striking ``or entity electing--
     '' and all that follows through ``(ii) the citizen 
     attestation pilot program'' and inserting ``or entity 
     electing the citizen attestation pilot program'';
       (2) by striking paragraph (3); and
       (3) by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (3).
       (d) Additional Technical and Conforming Amendments.--Title 
     IV of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1324a note) is amended 
     by striking ``Attorney General'' each place that term appears 
     and inserting ``Secretary of Homeland Security''.

     SEC. 4. PILOT IMMIGRATION PROGRAM.

       (a) Processing Priority Under Pilot Immigration Program for 
     Regional Centers to Promote Economic Growth.--Section 610 of 
     the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the 
     Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (8 
     U.S.C. 1153 note) is amended--

[[Page H11583]]

       (1) by striking ``Attorney General'' each place such term 
     appears and inserting ``Secretary of Homeland Security''; and
       (2) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(d) In processing petitions under section 204(a)(1)(H) of 
     the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1154(a)(1)(H)) 
     for classification under section 203(b)(5) of such Act (8 
     U.S.C. 1153(b)(5)), the Secretary of Homeland Security may 
     give priority to petitions filed by aliens seeking admission 
     under the pilot program described in this section. 
     Notwithstanding section 203(e) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1153(e)), immigrant visas made available under such section 
     203(b)(5) may be issued to such aliens in an order that takes 
     into account any priority accorded under the preceding 
     sentence.''.
       (b) Extension.--Section 610(b) of the Departments of 
     Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related 
     Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (8 U.S.C. 1153 note) is 
     amended by striking ``10 years'' and inserting ``15 years''.

     SEC. 5. GAO STUDY.

       (a) In General.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the General Accounting Office shall 
     report to Congress on the immigrant investor program created 
     under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality 
     Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(5)).
       (b) Contents.--The report described in subsection (a) shall 
     include information regarding--
       (1) the number of immigrant investors that have received 
     visas under the immigrant investor program in each year since 
     the inception of the program;
       (2) the country of origin of the immigrant investors;
       (3) the localities where the immigrant investors are 
     settling and whether those investors generally remain in the 
     localities where they initially settle;
       (4) the number of immigrant investors that have sought to 
     become citizens of the United States;
       (5) the types of commercial enterprises that the immigrant 
     investors have established; and
       (6) the types and number of jobs created by the immigrant 
     investors.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. 
Jackson-Lee) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Sensenbrenner).


                             General Leave

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous material on S. 1685, the bill 
currently under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Wisconsin?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, today we are considering Senate 1685, a bill authored by 
Senator Grassley that represents a fair and reasonable compromise 
regarding the reauthorization of the employment eligibility 
verification pilot project.
  The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made it unlawful for 
employers to knowingly hire or employ illegal aliens and required 
employers to check the identity and work eligibility documents of all 
new employees. Unfortunately, illegal aliens have used the easy and 
cheap availability of counterfeit documents to make a mockery of this 
law. Today's document-based verification system just does not work. It 
frustrates employers who do not want to hire illegal aliens but have no 
other choice than to accept documents that have a high likelihood of 
being counterfeit.
  In 1996, Congress responded to this state of affairs by creating a 
pilot program under which employers who elect to participate may submit 
the Social Security and alien identification numbers of newly hired 
employees to be checked against Social Security Administration and INS 
records.

                              {time}  1730

  This weeds out bogus numbers provided by illegal aliens and thus 
ensures that new hires are genuinely eligible to work.
  The pilot program has been a great success over its 6 years of 
operation. A recent study found that 96 percent of participating 
employers believed the pilot to be an effective and reliable tool for 
employment verification, 94 percent believed it to be more reliable 
than the IRCA-required document check, and 83 percent believed that 
participating in the pilot reduced uncertainty regarding work 
authorization. The study recommended the continuation of the pilot.
  Last month, this body considered H.R. 2359, introduced by the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Calvert), that would have extended the 
pilot program for an additional 5 years. It would have allowed 
employers throughout the Nation to voluntarily participate. Currently, 
the Department of Homeland Security is required to operate the pilot in 
at least five of the seven States with the highest estimated number of 
illegal aliens.
  Senate 1685 also extends the pilot for an additional 5 years. It also 
takes two steps to address the concerns of some of our colleagues that 
aspects of the pilot program can be improved. First, the bill delays 
nationwide expansion for a year. It provides that employers in all 
States shall be able to participate in the basic pilot program no later 
than December 1, 2004. In addition, not later than June 1, 2004, the 
Secretary of Homeland Security shall complete a report evaluating 
whether any problems identified in the 2001 report on the basic pilot 
program have been substantially resolved and describing what actions 
the Secretary shall take to resolve any outstanding problems before 
undertaking the expansion of the program.
  Senate 1685 also addresses the immigrant investor visa program. To 
encourage economic development through the program, Congress created a 
5-year temporary pilot program in 1993 that set aside 3,000 immigrant 
visas each year for aliens who invested at least $500,000 in designated 
regional centers. A regional center is any economic unit, public or 
private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, 
including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job 
creation, or increased domestic capital investment. A center seeking 
approval must submit a proposal showing how it plans to focus on a 
geographical region within the United States to achieve the required 
growth. Once a center has been approved, an alien applicant can receive 
an investor visa by showing that he will make the qualifying investment 
within the approved regional center. In 2000, Congress extended this 
program until September 2003.
  Senate 1685 extends this pilot program for an additional 5 years and 
also allows the Department of Homeland Security to process investor 
visa petitions involving regional centers expeditiously, as compared to 
nonpilot program investor visa petitions.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill. The legislation will 
provide willing employers throughout the Nation the tools they need to 
hire a legal workforce.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  The consideration of S. 1685 is a positive step toward resolving a 
concern that many Americans have as relates to ensuring the complete 
and accurate employment of those who are able and should be employed in 
a legal manner. The basic pilot is a temporary, voluntary program for 
electronically verifying the employment authorization of newly-hired 
employees. The bill, S. 1685, would extend the program for another 5 
years.
  The objective of employment verification is to ensure that American 
employers hire workers who are authorized to work in the United States. 
Under the basic pilot, the employer examines the documents of a newly-
hired employee and then transmits the pertinent information 
electronically to an office of the Social Security Administration. The 
SSA office compares the information with its records. In the case of a 
foreign worker, the SSA office will pass the information on to the 
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  The BCIS compares the alien's employment data with immigration 
records to determine whether he or she is authorized to work in the 
United States. If BCIS confirms that the alien employee is authorized 
to work in the United States, it issues a confirmation number. If BCIS 
determines instead that the new employee is not authorized for 
employment in the United States, it issues a tentative nonconfirmation 
number. Procedures are

[[Page H11584]]

available to permit either the employer or the employee to contest a 
tentative nonconfirmation before it becomes final, at least allowing 
procedures of due process so that those who would insist that they are 
allowed to work here would have the opportunity to protest any denial 
and to be able to provide information to prove that they can work here 
in the United States.
  The basic pilot is an effective employee verification program that 
makes it easier and safer for employers to hire foreign workers which 
makes it easier for lawful foreign workers to find employment.
  Section 405 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
Responsibility Act of 1996 required the Attorney General to submit a 
report on the basic pilot to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. 
The report was done by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple 
University. The Institute identified a substantial number of 
implementation problems. It concluded, among other things, that the 
basic pilot was a good program, but that it was not ready yet for 
larger-scale implementation. Consequently, I have concerns about a 
provision in S. 1685 which would expand the pilot program from its 
present size of being available in only six States to being available 
in all 50 States.
  S. 1685 has a provision, however, which I believe addresses the 
problems that the Institute identified. This provision would require 
the Secretary of Homeland Security, prior to expanding the program, to 
submit a report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees stating, 
one, the extent to which these problems have been resolved; and, two, 
describing what additional actions will be taken before expanding the 
program. This is a helpful addition, if you will, that counters the 
overexpansion to 50 States, which I believe we are not yet prepared for 
in terms of manpower hours at Homeland Security and, as well, 
technology to be able to address the overload that will occur. But it 
is an important issue to ensure that employers are, in fact, complying 
with the law and hiring those appropriately able to work in the United 
States.
  S. 1685 also would extend the duration of an immigrant investor pilot 
program for 5 additional years. It is a little-used program, and I 
think we should do a lot to expand and promote this program because it 
is an investment program. This pilot program arose out of the basic 
immigrant investor EB-5 program. Ten thousand EB-5 visas are available 
each year, 5,000 of which are reserved for people who participate in 
the pilot program.
  The requirements for participating in the pilot program are 
essentially the same as the requirements for participating in the EB-5 
investor program, with some exceptions. An investor under the pilot 
program can qualify with an investment of less than $1 million, which 
is the requirement for the basic EB-5 program. The pilot program 
investor may satisfy the eligibility requirements with an investment of 
as little as $500,000 in a specified type of commercial enterprise that 
would be to promote economic growth, improve regional productivity, 
create new jobs or save existing ones, and increase domestic capital 
investment in certain definitively needy areas that would benefit from 
this investment. I would encourage the utilization of these visas as 
much as possible.
  I am pleased that foreign investors are being encouraged to invest in 
regions of our country that need the stimulation of such enterprises. I 
think this is a worthwhile program that should be extended. I urge my 
colleagues to vote for this bill.
  Might I also acknowledge the work of the Committee on the Judiciary, 
the House Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Sensenbrenner) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) who worked 
on this legislation and my chairman on the Subcommittee on Immigration, 
Border Security, and Claims, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. 
Hostettler), that efforts were waged to compromise on this legislation. 
I do still have concerns, but I believe that we have worked through a 
bill that is suited for the support of my colleagues.
  Mr. Speaker, the Basic Pilot is a temporary, voluntary program for 
electronically verifying the employment authorization of newly hired 
employees. The bill, S. 1685, would extend the program for another 5 
years.
  The objective of employment verification is to ensure that American 
employers hire workers who are authorized to work in the United States. 
Under the Basic Pilot, the employer examines the documents of a newly 
hired employee and then transmits the pertinent information 
electronically to an office at the Social Security Administration 
(SSA). The SSA office compares the information with its records. In the 
case of a foreign worker, the SSA office will pass the information on 
to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).
  The BCIS compares the alien's employment data with immigration 
records to determine whether he or she is authorized to work in the 
United States. If BCIS confirms that the alien employee is authorized 
to work in the United States, it issues a confirmation number. If BCIS 
determines instead that the new employee is not authorized for 
employment in the United States, it issues a tentative nonconfirmation 
number. Procedures are available to permit either the employer or the 
employee to contest a tentative nonconfirmation before it becomes 
final.
  The Basic Pilot is an effective employee verification program that 
makes it easier and safer for employers to hire foreign workers, which 
makes it easier for lawful foreign workers to find employment.
  Section 405 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) required the Attorney General to 
submit a report on the Basic Pilot to the House and Senate Judiciary 
Committees. The report was done by the Institute for Survey Research at 
Temple University. The institute identified a substantial number of 
implementation problems. It concluded, among other things, that the 
Basic Pilot was a good program but that it was not ready yet for larger 
scale implementation. Consequently, I have concerns about a provision 
in S. 1685 which would expand the pilot program from its present size 
of being available in only 6 States to being available in all 50 
States.
  S. 1685 has a provision, however, which addresses the problems that 
the institute identified. This provision would require the Secretary of 
Homeland Security, prior to expanding the program to submit a report to 
the House and Senate Judiciary Committees stating first, the extent to 
which these problems have been resolved; and second, describing what 
additional actions will be taken before expanding the program.
  S. 1685 would extend the duration of an immigrant investor pilot 
program for 5 additional years. This pilot program arose out of the 
basic immigrant investor EB-5 program. Ten thousand EB-5 visas are 
available each year, 5,000 of which are reserved for people who 
participate in the pilot program.
  The requirements for participating in the pilot program are 
essentially the same as the requirements for participating in the EB-5 
investor program, with some exceptions. An investor under the pilot 
program can qualify with an investment of less than $1 million, which 
is the requirement for the basic EB-5 program. The pilot program 
investor may satisfy the eligibility requirements with an investment of 
as little as $500,000 in a specified type of commercial enterprise. The 
enterprise must promote economic growth, improve regional productivity, 
create new jobs or save existing ones, and increase domestic capital 
investment.
  I am pleased that foreign investors are being encouraged to invest in 
regions of our country that need the stimulation of such enterprises. I 
think this is a worthwhile program that should be extended.
  I urge you therefore to vote for this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from Indiana (Mr. Hostettler), chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Immigration, Border Security, and Claims.
  (Mr. HOSTETTLER asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
his remarks.)
  Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the chairman for yielding me this time, and I 
think the ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), for her work on this legislation as well.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize two points. First, employers 
participating in the pilot program find it of immense help in the day-
to-day operations of their businesses. And, second, the pilot is 
working extraordinarily well and will only get better in the future.
  The report commissioned by the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service, or INS, to evaluate the program found that ``an overwhelming 
majority of employers participating found the basic pilot program to be 
an effective and reliable tool for employment verification.'' 
Participating employers

[[Page H11585]]

appreciate the pilot because it reduces uncertainty. The pilot ensures 
that their operations will not be disrupted by the mass dismissal of 
employees after the Department of Homeland Security or the Social 
Security Administration question the status of their employees. The 
pilot ensures that they will not be put in the position of hiring 
illegal aliens, investing hundreds of thousands of hours in training 
them and then losing the benefit of this investment years down the road 
when they are forced to dismiss these illegal employees.
  As Paul Weyrich has said in his support of this bill, ``If we are 
really serious about enforcing the immigration laws we have on the 
books, then we must provide the means for employers to quickly 
determine the validity of the documents with which they are presented. 
The way the pilot program works is simple and reflects plain common 
sense.''
  The report indicated that the pilot program could be improved in a 
few areas. Some employers had taken adverse actions against new 
employees tentatively found ineligible to work. And INS databases had 
to be improved, especially in the context of adding data for persons 
recently issued a work authorization document and for new immigrants 
and refugees. However, remember that the report evaluated operations of 
the pilot in the 1990s. Since that time, INS and now the Department of 
Homeland Security, or DHS, have been actively making any needed 
improvements. DHS believes that there has been ``an overwhelming 
improvement in the timeliness of data entry, particularly in response 
to the events of September 11.'' In fact, DHS now requires that all new 
data regarding immigrants be entered into the system within 3 days and 
all new information regarding temporary visitors be entered within 14 
days.
  As to employer responsibilities, DHS said that ``greater emphasis on 
pilot procedures has been added to training materials, and safeguards 
have been added to pilot software to increase compliance with required 
procedures. For instance, employers will be required to certify that 
they have talked with their employees and advised them of their rights 
if they cannot immediately be confirmed.'' Finally, DHS reports that 
the soon-to-be-implemented Internet-based version of the pilot will 
greatly reduce or eliminate any remaining problems.
  S. 1685, the bill now under consideration, should ameliorate concerns 
about any lingering problems in the pilot program by delaying 
nationwide implementation until next December and requiring the 
Secretary of Homeland Security to issue a report by June evaluating 
whether the problems identified by the 2001 report have been 
substantially resolved and describing what actions he needs to take 
before December 2004 in order to resolve them.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote for S. 1685.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, let me also note, I think, an important aspect of this 
bill, and, that is, a concern about the dissemination of information 
and violation of privacy that the initial bill exhibited. I am pleased 
to note that the Senate removed a provision that would give State and 
local governments access to the information collected with this 
program. That would have been the first step toward the dissemination 
or the idea, which I think is still highly debatable, of a national 
identity card. So, in fact, we have provided safeguard provisions to 
make this legislation work, to provide the information that is 
necessary to ensure the protection of the workplace, and also to 
provide due process rights for all who are involved.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Calvert), the author of the House version of the 
bill.
  Mr. CALVERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 1685, the Basic 
Pilot Program Extension and Expansion Act of 2003. The basic pilot 
employment verification system is the only automated system offered to 
employers to verify employment eligibility of new employees.
  In 1994 I spoke with a Border Patrol agent who identified a key need 
in the enforcement of immigration laws. Employers need a simple way, a 
reliable tool to verify the worker status of new employees. In 
response, I introduced a bill to create the basic pilot program to do 
just that. Operating in six of the most problematic States on a 
voluntary basis, the basic pilot has proven to be an overwhelming 
success. The basic pilot program is the best tool available for 
employers to comply with immigration laws which prohibit hiring 
undocumented immigrants.
  Recently, a contract cleaning service for Wal-Mart was raided by the 
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and over 250 employees 
were arrested. If Wal-Mart's cleaning service had used the basic pilot 
program and verified the I-9 documents provided by their workers, this 
situation could have been avoided. We must provide companies the option 
of using this employment verification program and assist them in 
complying with Federal immigration law. This program is in no way 
mandatory. It is completely voluntary and may be used at the discretion 
of the employer. Without the option to use the basic pilot program, 
employers have no means of verifying legal work status for immigrants, 
causing many employers to discriminate against legal workers.

                              {time}  1745

  This program gives employers the confidence to hire legal immigrants, 
reducing discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, S. 1685 allows 
employers from any State to voluntarily use this program. Many of my 
colleagues have expressed concerns that this will expand the program 
too far too fast. The reality is that current pilot States are home to 
over 80 percent of all illegal immigrants, which means the impact on 
the program will be negligible. The bill also requires the Department 
of Homeland Security to complete a report identifying and resolving any 
problems with the program and the expansion.
  After 7 successful years, it is time to give all employers the option 
of verifying their workforce and avoiding entanglements with the 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  I would like to thank Senator Grassley for sponsoring S. 1685, the 
Senate counterpart to my bill, and encourage my colleagues to vote for 
a bill that promotes compliance with Federal law.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Berman), member of the 
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, who has 
worked long years in bringing us a consistent and effective immigration 
policy for this country.
  Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her kind 
comments.
  I rise in support of the proposal. I opposed the House bill that went 
through in part because I had concerns about what was in section 3 of 
the bill allowing data to be shared with State and local governments. 
That is no longer in the bill that has come over from the Senate. The 
expansion of the program is conditioned on some additional studies to 
make sure it is working right, and the fundamental principle is a 
legitimate principle. Employers who want to do the right thing should 
be able to access accurate information about status given the state of 
the Federal law at this time on who they should and should not hire.
  So I always supported the principle of the pilot program. We just 
want to make sure it provides accurate information about the employee 
so that people who are eligible to work are not denied employment as a 
result of utilizing that system, and I congratulate the majority and 
the minority for pushing what I think is a more reasonable approach 
through.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Smith).
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of the 
Committee on the Judiciary for yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, the basic pilot program was originally authorized in the 
1996 Immigration Act. It allows employers in six States to verify the 
validity of the Social Security numbers of new hires. S. 1685 
reauthorizes this program and expands it to allow employers in all 50 
States to voluntarily participate in the basic pilot program.

[[Page H11586]]

  The program offers employers the opportunity to ensure that 
individuals they hire are eligible to work in the United States.
  Illegal immigrants drive down wages and take jobs from American 
workers. Recent studies show immigration has depressed the wages of 
American workers in similar jobs by more than $2,500 per year. Ninety 
percent of the American people believe that we should reduce illegal 
immigration, and 79 percent feel that the Federal Government should 
require employers to verify the work status of potential employees. The 
main attraction for the 10 to 20 million illegal aliens who have 
crossed our borders is work. If we want to reduce the incentive for 
illegal immigration and its negative impacts, we must reduce the 
availability of jobs for illegal immigrants.
  This program reduces illegal immigration because it allows employers 
to make sure they are only hiring someone who is eligible to work in 
the United States.
  Everyone who is concerned about lost jobs and unemployment should 
support the expansion of the basic pilot program. If we are serious 
about saving jobs for citizens and legal immigrants, we should pass S. 
1685.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  First of all, let me again acknowledge my colleagues on the 
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims and the full 
Committee on the Judiciary; but I always want to acknowledge the staff, 
both majority and minority, for working through this legislation.
  I would simply say that we have realized that we have this dilemma 
between the need for American workers to have jobs, particularly in 
this economy, and juxtaposing it against the numbers of immigrants who 
have come to this country for opportunity, in many instances economic 
opportunity. I hope that, as we look at this legislation, we will be 
reminded of the fact that we do need to establish a real immigration 
policy for this Nation.
  The basic pilot legislation helps us to avoid what I think is the 
ugliest part of this conflict with illegal immigration, and that is 
racial stereotyping and stigmatizing of those who happen to come from a 
background that would ordinarily suggest that they are not here with 
legal status. By being able to find out real information through the 
BCIS and the Social Security Administration, employers can be safe and 
secure in those that they might hire.
  At the same time I think that this body owes it to the establishment 
of a real immigration policy along with the administration that we 
should pass 245(i) and begin to look at ways to address the question of 
8 million undocumented aliens by earning access to legalization, by 
passing legislation that allows those who have come here to work to 
earn their way to citizenship first by way of being in this country for 
5 years without a criminal background, paying taxes, and working, 
finding a way for them to route themselves to real citizenship.
  Might I say in conclusion that as we organize a Homeland Security 
Department, and the Committee on the Judiciary worked very hard to 
establish aspects of the immigration provisions, to the credit of the 
Committee on the Judiciary, that particular section was called the 
Bureau of Citizenship, I believe, and Immigration Services. That is an 
important step, that we want people to be able to legally access 
citizenship, those who have come here to work and come here to do what 
is good for this country to be able to access citizenship even if their 
first entry might have been in an illegal status.
  This legislation clearly is needed today, but we do need a forceful 
immigration policy. With that I ask my colleagues to vote for this 
legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the only way we are going to get a handle on the illegal 
immigration problem of this country is by giving employers the means to 
verify whether an applicant for employment is legally able to work here 
and then to enforce the 1986 law which makes it illegal for an employer 
to hire an illegal alien. If we do not do both, then it will be always 
cheaper for an employer to break the law by hiring an illegal alien 
because they do not have to pay them the minimum wage, they do not have 
to have workplace safety and environmental standards. In many cases 
they are paid in cash; and the deductions for Social Security and 
Federal and State income tax withholding are not taken out, all of 
which is illegal, but there still is a huge economic incentive for an 
employer to break the law multiple times by hiring an illegal alien.
  This bill is an important part of closing a part of that loop, by 
giving employers nationwide the tools to find out if the person who is 
asking for a job is legal and a better way of being able to determine 
whether the documents that the applicant presents are genuine documents 
or counterfeit documents.
  So we have done a part of making our immigration laws more effective 
by passing this legislation, but the other part indeed deals with 
enforcement because without enforcement of the immigration law, the 
problem that we thought we solved with the amnesty that was granted in 
1986 will continue whether or not there is another amnesty that is 
granted by the Congress, which is a move that I personally oppose. So 
with that, I urge the Members to support this bill.
  Mr. OSBORNE. Mr. Speaker, as an original cosponsor of similar House 
legislation, I encourage my colleagues to support S. 1685, the Basic 
Pilot Extension Act of 2003. This important legislation would extend 
for five years the Basic Pilot Verification Program, which is a 
voluntary program that employers use in conjunction with the Bureau of 
Immigration and Citizenship Services (BCIS) and the Social Security 
Administration (SSA) to confirm employment eligibility in my home state 
of Nebraska, among others. This pilot, which started in November 1997, 
involves verification checks of the SSA and the BCIS databases of all 
newly hired employees regardless of citizenship. Unfortunately, the 
Basic Pilot program is scheduled to terminate on November 30th of this 
year.
  The agricultural economy of Nebraska's Third District relies heavily 
on immigrant labor. Employers across my district have told me that they 
want to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, 
which made it unlawful for employers to knowingly hire or employ aliens 
not eligible to work, and required employers to verify documents of new 
workers. However, a simple visual check of these documents by employers 
will not tell them if these are in fact counterfeit documents, and that 
this potential new hire is in fact an illegal alien.
  I have heard from many business people in the Third District about 
their need for the Basic Pilot program. Employers need the appropriate 
tools to ensure that they are indeed hiring eligible workers, and S. 
1685 would allow employers in all states to opt to participate in the 
program. By checking the new hire's documents against the BCIS and SSA 
databases, the Basic Pilot program allows employers to feel more 
confident about their new hire.
  I thank my colleague, Representative Calvert, for his hard work on 
this issue in the House and I urge my colleagues to support S. 1685.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Sweeney). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) that the 
House suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill, S. 1685.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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