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Lamar Smith and the GOP's Jobs (Killing) Bill

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Wall St. Journal Ed Board the Latest to Highlight Burdens & Consequences of Mandatory E-Verify

The current political conversation in Washington and the nation is all about jobs. Last week, President Obama unveiled his jobs plan, which experts have concluded would create 1.9 million jobs.

Many have been waiting for a counter proposal from congressional Republicans. But it’s already out there, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith calls his bill “the Legal Workforce Act,” but it’s better known as mandatory E-Verify. This legislation will be marked up in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, September 15, 2011, along with another Smith bill to create a massive new guest worker program for the agriculture industry.

But, here’s the rub: instead of creating jobs, Smith’s E-Verify plan would cost jobs – at least 800,000, and likely many more.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Lamar Smith’s jobs plan is a job losing plan. A study conducted for the federal government by Westat estimates that 770,000 American workers would lose their jobs due to database errors alone.  Millions more legal workers will have to go to a government office—on their own time and their own dime—and fight the bureaucracy to correct their records and be able to work.  Additionally, with America’s agriculture industry heavily reliant on undocumented workers and with every on-farm job generating about 3.1 “upstream” and “downstream” jobs, deporting farmworkers and sending production overseas will eliminate many other jobs currently held by Americans.

Basically, Smith is proposing a massive bureaucracy that would somehow accomplish an unprecedented jobs trade-off.  As the very conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial opposing E-Verify, “Chronic problems with speed, cost and accuracy bedevil E-Verify. With all the inaccuracies in the database, up to 1.3 million U.S. citizens and legal workers will be mistakenly flagged for problems if E-Verify passes, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Good luck to those who’ll have to sort out their records at the local Social Security office.”

Just yesterday, in a press statement, Smith said, “This is one of the best options on the table to put unemployed Americans back to work.” Not exactly.

Smith has been banging that drum for a while. Earlier this summer, in a column in  The Hill, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX)  claimed his legislation, the Legal Workforce Act, “opens up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans and legal workers.”  You’d think organized labor would be applauding such a bill, but they oppose it.  Smith has a little problem with “truth in advertising.”  Not only would his bill cost Americans jobs, but it would send millions more workers into the underground economy, expand the deficit, and cost businesses billions of dollars to implement. 

The fact is, Smith’s plan isn’t about doing what’s right for the American worker, it’s about mass deportation.  And, he’s willing to undertake that mission at any cost to the economy. 

Smith believes his bill would result in millions of undocumented workers leaving low-paying jobs, for example, working the fields, and exiting the country. Then, Smith envisions those jobs would be filled by the unemployed.  That’s his jobs plan. Of course, it involves forcing every American business owner to participate in a system with a 50% fail rate.  And, along the way, 800,000 Americans would lose their jobs while millions would be forced into bureaucratic quagmire, and most of the undocumented workers flagged by the system will remain employed, moving off the books and into the cash economy.

America’s Voice Education Fund Executive Director Frank Sharry said, “Americans have been waiting for our leaders to focus on jobs. I suspect most Americans would be opposed to a so-called jobs bill that would actually cause job losses – and increase unemployment. But, that is what Lamar Smith is proposing. For years we’ve watched Smith try to inflict pain on immigrants. Now, he’s going for broke and trying to inflict economic pain on the entire nation.”

For more information on the Smith E-Verify bill, see:

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