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The economy is terrible. You’ve been at home, out of work for more than six months. The bills are piling up and you’re barely scraping by. You’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, been beaten down by a market that simply isn’t hiring. But then—a pure stroke of luck: an interviewer likes you, and you’ve been hired. They just need to run your name through something called E-Verify, a national government-run database which tracks who is and isn’t legally allowed to work in the U.S. And then it comes: a notice of non-confirmation. ‘There’s some mistake,’ you think. ‘I’m a natural-born U.S. citizen. I’ve lived here all my life.’ You go to fix the paperwork, but your request is swallowed up by red tape and bureaucracy. Your would-be employer rescinds the job offer and extends it to someone else.
Sound like a horror story? It is. The E-Verify database is a massively flawed program that mistakenly identifies a significant portion of U.S. citizens and lawful residents as unauthorized to work. Right now, only a small percentage of employers use E-Verify. If legislation is passed to make the program mandatory across the nation, however, 800,000 lawful workers would likely lose their jobs. More than a million would have to get their records fixed. In 2009, the average response time for such a fix was 104 days.
For some reason, lawmakers like House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) want to throw out all common economic sense and make E-Verify mandatory. His bill, called the “Legal Workforce Act,” is scheduled to be marked up in committee tomorrow, Thursday, September 15.
That’s why today, community leaders, small business owners, and workers all around the country are declaring a National Day of Action Against E-Verify. Coordinated by National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Immigration Law Center, Jobs with Justice, National Employment Law Project, and the Service Employees International Union, they’re speaking out against this terrible bill that would stand between workers and their jobs in this economy.
In Portland, Portland Jobs with Justice will join community leaders in a press conference telling Congress that forcing employers to use E-Verify will harm U.S. workers and employers and undercut the country’s economic recovery.
In Boston, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice is bringing together representatives and members of unions, worker centers, and faith communities for a roundtable discussion on mandatory E-Verify.
In Long Island, demonstrators are gathering in front of Congressman Peter King (R-NY)’s office to make it clear that E-Verify is not the kind of national policy we need.
Other events, gatherings, and demonstrations will be taking place in Austin, Texas and Washington, DC.