By Joe Guzzardi
The most effective tool for ending illegal immigration, and opening up jobs for American workers, is curiously off the table in the ceaseless congressional amnesty negotiations. Enforcement hawks want to know what happened to E-Verify, the free, online, accurate program that checks new hires’ legal authorization to work.
E-Verify is popular with over 700,000 employers at more than 1.9 million hiring sites, with 1,400 new companies participating weekly. New and existing E-Verify users have a high satisfaction rate, according to the 2016 Customer Satisfaction Survey. E-Verify does not, as the media often represents, provide employers with any immigration, citizenship status or document information about the new hire. (Author’s note: I’ve been E-Verified since 2009.)
Since E-Verify has been around in various forms since 1996, analysts wonder why Congress hasn’t passed legislation that mandates it. The New York Times, a prominent immigration expansionist publication, acknowledged the need for “a uniform system to verify employment eligibility” along with more rigorous prosecution of employers who evade it.
Going after those who employ illegal immigrants takes courage, common sense and a desire to stop illegal immigration. E-Verify would make hiring illegal immigrants difficult, if not impossible.
In less contentious years, pro-immigration advocates like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Immigration Customs and Enforcement Director John Morton, and columnist Ruben Navarrette agreed that the best chance to eliminate illegal immigration is to remove the jobs magnet, an E-Verify objective.
Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled in E-Verify’s favor. In the court’s 2011 decision that upheld Arizona’s mandatory E-Verify law, the majority’s opinion wrote that although Congress “had made the program voluntary at the national level, it had expressed no intent to prevent states from mandating participation.”
The answer to the original question – what’s holding up E-Verify – can be found in the Supreme Court’s Arizona decision. The plaintiff was the cheap labor champion, the Chamber of Commerce. When Congress has to choose between mega-campaign funders like the Chamber and other corporations that profit from low-cost labor or support American workers by imposing tougher regulations, most representatives side with big business. Congress knows E-Verify works. But its implementation would squeeze employer profits, and donations might dry up. That’s why, three decades later, E-Verify is still voluntary.
Neither side of the aisle wants E-Verify. Democrats know it will discourage illegal immigration, which in turn will dampen future amnesty efforts. And establishment Republicans don’t want E-Verify because they know it’s effective and would eliminate their donors’ cheap labor pools.
But business isn’t the only culprit that holds E-Verify hostage. Well-organized, deep-pocketed and politically plugged-in advocacy groups wield significant Beltway power, and demonstrate in large numbers to advance more illegal immigrant entitlements.
Within a few weeks, mid-term election campaigning will heat up. The question from voters to incumbents is short, sweet and direct: “Have you voted for any of the mandatory E-Verify bills that Congress introduced during the last two years?”
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