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Posted at America’s Voice Español:
Even though the DREAM Act, a bill to legalize undocumented youth, was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress earlier this month, the legislative fight up next is not over that measure but instead, a bill to mandate nationwide use of the E-verify system to determine if employees have their papers in order.
With a Republican majority in the House of Representatives that completely refuses to consider legalization measures, and a Senate with a reduced Democratic majority, the possibilities of advancing the DREAM Act by itself are difficult.
Although it has been suggested that lawmakers might, for example, try to add the DREAM Act to some other legislative measure–especially in the Senate– Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that the E-verify bill he plans to introduce in the House will not be a vehicle of what he calls “amnesty”.
What is approaching is a fierce debate about whether programs like E-Verify can function properly without solving the reality of the 11 million undocumented immigrants among us; the role of undocumented people in our economy; and how measures that some define as meant to fight undocumented immigration can affect citizens, legal residents and the economy.
The E-Verify program, which was established in 1997 as a voluntary pilot program, checks employees’ data against information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security.
Pro-immigrant and civil rights groups argue, among other things, that despite the “improvements” that DHS claims to have implemented (to avoid clerical errors that leave authorized workers without jobs), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded that “E-Verify errors persist.”