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Blowback: Compulsory E-Verify Ignites Local Business, Labor, and Faith Voices in Opposition

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Growing Grassroots Chorus Oppose Red tape, Cost and Economic Impact of New Fed Mandate

Washington – It’s the rare piece of legislation these days that generates outrage from state and local business organizations, the labor movement, and a range of faith denominations across the country.  Yet that’s exactly what is happening in response to the mandatory E-Verify legislation being championed by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).  More and more voices from across the country are telling Washington that this bill would be bad for our economy, our jobs, and our communities.  Among the most recent developments include the following voices joining the growing chorus of opposition:

  • Oregon Businesses Speak Out – Joining Business Leaders in CA, FL, GA, TX, and Elsewhere:  The Coalition for a Working Oregon, a group of 22 leading Oregon businesses, is speaking out about the economic toll and burdensome new requirements that would occur if E-Verify becomes mandatory for all employers in the U.S.  The Executive Director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, Jeff Stone, called the proposed Smith-Grassley plan “a recipe for disaster, not only for agriculture but for the national economy.  In the worst case, you could see some Oregon operations crumble.”  The group cites a 2008 study by Oregon State University economists that found that a “mandatory, federal verification system would cost Oregon 173,500 jobs” over the next three to five years, including 76,000 jobs held by legal workers.  The report also found that Oregon would “lose $650 million over that same period in tax revenue.”  The business voices speaking out in Oregon echo similar concerns expressed by business owners in California, Georgia, Florida, Texas and elsewhere.  
  • American Labor Says E-Verify is Bad for American Jobs:  Despite Lamar Smith’s newfound concern for American workers and unsubstantiated claims about the impacts of his policy proposal, leading voices from the American labor movement agree that forced E-Verify would be a disaster for American workers.  In a column for Huffington Post Mike Fishman, the head of New York’s largest private sector union and the nation’s largest property services union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ, highlights the job killing nature of forced E-Verify, writing, “By forcing seven million employers in the U.S. to invest, not in expanding their businesses, but instead in plugging into an error-prone government database, E-Verify is a job-killing bill that we cannot afford at this time. Expanding and imposing a deeply flawed, bureaucratic system will not create jobs. Forcing every employer in the country to check every single worker’s legal status will not create more jobs. Subjecting millions of workers, including U.S. citizens, to discrimination and potentially unfair firings will not help create good jobs.”  Eliseo Medina, SEIU’s International Secretary-Treasurer, voiced these same concerns in The Hill, highlighting the economic and bureaucratic toll threatened by mandatory E-Verify. 
  • Faith Voices Highlight Damage to Communities by Forced E-Verify:  In addition to the toll the Smith-Grassley proposals would have on our economy at a precarious point in our nation’s recovery, voices from the faith community are also highlighting the moral problems with an enforcement-only approach to immigration policy.  Catholic Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration wrote in a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed that, “implementation of a mandatory E-Verify system by itself, particularly as the system currently is constituted, would ultimately fail” and that, “Enforcement efforts alone, pursued by our government for several decades, have not solved the problem of illegal immigration or addressed the underlying problem of a broken immigration system. Instead, they have separated U.S.-citizen families and driven entire immigrant communities underground, to the detriment of us all.”  Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sounded a similar theme in a recent op-ed in Huffington Post, writing, ” As the country cracks down, the immigrants go further into the shadows. They still are in the workforce but open to inhumane exploitation by unscrupulous employers. This degradation demeans our nation and its people and flies against the fairness we Americans believe is part of our national character.”  As Father Marc Fallon of the PICO National Network, the largest faith based community organizing network in the nation with presence in 150 cities and 17 states, summed up, “E-verify is very misleading. It sounds good on paper but it does not support our workforce or American families. It puts unnecessary burdens on employers, strains family resources and reinforces a culture based on fear and ignorance.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “Though the perspectives of business and labor are usually at odds, on forced E-Verify they agree enacting it would be a disaster for the country and their own constituencies.  It’s particularly telling that most of the opposition is coming from actual employers and those on the ground in states and communities throughout the country.  Across traditional political and ideological and denominational lines, the more people learn about E-Verify, the less they like it.”  

 America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.