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Pushback Against E-Verify Grows

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Opposition to Ineffective E-Verify Program Broadens, Spotlights Negative Economic Impact

The Smith-Grassley push to make the ineffective and burdensome E-Verify program mandatory nationwide continues to generate significant opposition from a broad range of observers, from the editorial board of La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language daily in the U.S., to the Service Employees International Union, to respected columnist Andres Oppenheimer.  Interestingly, the Smith plan is also garnering strong opposition from the extreme right of the GOP.    

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “It is difficult to understand why the House Republican leadership is allowing Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Elton Gallegly to charge forward on mandatory E-Verify.  It will make the existing problems of the broken immigration system worse by driving immigrant workers into the underground cash economy.  This in turn will lead to billions in lost tax revenue and more incentive for bad-actor employers to exploit workers and undermine honest competitors.  Moreover, since the current E-Verify system has such a huge error rate, it will keep hundreds of thousands of legal workers from getting hired.  Meanwhile, the employers who will be hit the hardest are farmers who grow our fresh fruits and vegetables and small business owners who are being counted on to grow the economy.  This is a policy disaster from start to finish – and only adds to the Republicans’ political problems with Latino voters.” 

Among recent and prominent voices expressing opposition to the bill include:

  • La Opinión editorialized that mandatory E-Verify would significantly impede our national economic recovery.  The Spanish language editorial notes that the state of Georgia’s agriculture industry offers a preview of what we could expect nationwide with adoption of mandatory E-Verify.  Georgia’s harvest is rotting in the fields because of a lack of workers, to the point that Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA) has called for paroled convicts to replace the immigrants that previously did this job.  However, growers are complaining that they can’t depend on their new workers.  In short, E-verify is creating a labor crisis in Georgia, not solving the jobs problem.  Expect this problem to multiply nationwide if the Smith and Grassley bills become law. 
  • Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), wrote in an op-ed in The Hill of the economic and bureaucratic toll threatened by mandatory E-Verify, stating, “Instead of trying to grow new jobs, the Smith bill would further cripple the economy by mandating that all employers rely on an error-ridden government database that does not accurately verify worker eligibility…Businesses would be required to master an 82-page manual, take a 3-hour tutorial and then haggle with bureaucrats when workers are erroneously disqualified. While an expanded bureaucracy might be easily carried by big corporations, it would be an especially heavy lift for the small businesses that employ more than half of U.S. workers.  It also targets all government employees and those who work for major government contractors, as well as union halls and non-profits that provide employment services.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost, business costs would rise, key components of our economy such as the restaurant and agriculture industries would be crippled.  Taxpayers also stand to lose billions of dollars when disqualified workers and their employers go off the tax rolls and into the cash economy. An expanded underground economy drives down wages for all U.S. workers – U.S. born and immigrant.”
  • Andres Oppenheimer, a syndicated columnist and member of the Miami Herald editorial board, wrote in the Miami Herald of the misplaced assumptions made by those pushing for the bill and the counterproductive outcomes we can expect if the legislation moves forward.  Writes Oppenheimer, “E-Verify is a legitimate tool that could help solve the U.S. immigration crisis, but only if it is implemented alongside a path to legalization for undocumented workers who are willing to pay fines and learn English. Otherwise, it will only help push millions of people further into the underground economy, and may cause thousands of legal residents — mostly Hispanics — to lose their jobs because of documentation mistakes. Whoever thinks that millions of undocumented immigrants, many of whom have American children, would simply leave their families behind and go back to their home countries is either kidding himself, or is trying to take the rest of us down the dangerous road of blaming immigrants for the U.S. economic crisis.”

The Smith proposal is also garnering stiff opposition from some on the far right.  Mass-deportation legal architect and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wrote in the New York Post last week that “While the Smith bill sounds good, in fact, it hobbles immigration enforcement. Negotiated with the pro-amnesty US Chamber of Commerce, the bill would establish a fairly toothless E-Verify requirement while defanging the only government bodies that are serious about enforcing immigration law — the states.”  Other anti-immigrant writers on such forums as National Review have picked up the Kobach message and are similarly asserting that the bill will straitjacket the laboratories of anti-immigrant democracy.

Said Sharry, “Across the political spectrum, the more people learn about the legislation, the more problems they have with it.  And with good reason.  It’s hard to make the case that anyone will benefit from mandatory E-Verify — certainly not American taxpayers, job seekers, or business owners.” 

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