Senate Excludes E-Verify Check on Illegal Immigrant Workers from Stimulus Package
By Richard Kaplan
Hispanicbusiness.com, February 11, 2009
The Senate passed today a $838 billion stimulus plan that did not include E-Verify, a mechanism to check whether workers are legal immigrants or U.S. citizens. While Senate Democrats blocked the E-Verify amendment from being voted on, the House has voted 417-2 in favor of including the worker identity checking program in its version of the stimulus package.
The fight over E-Verify, or Basic Pilot, now moves to the House-Senate conference where the differences between the two economic recovery packages will be hammered out in negotiations. Proponents and opponents of the E-Verify measure have targeted the legislative negotiations as a key battleground over the issue.
Proponents of E-Verify say the measure is necessary to prevent newly created jobs from going to undocumented immigrant worker in the United States. The House bill prohibits any stimulus funding from going to a company or government office that fails to use the E-Verify identity checking system. This online electronic database checks whether a person is authorized to work in the United States.
A number of groups including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Human Resource Initiative for a Legal Workforce, opposed the insertion of an E-Verify Measure into the bill. The Hispanic Caucus sent a letter on Jan. 26 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arguing against the measure. The caucus wrote that E-Verify would 'disproportionately affect Hispanic workers and their employers. We urge you to ensure this provision is stripped from legislation.'
The caucus argued that the database used to confirm the worker's status 'has been widely documented as unreliable and inaccurate.' They said that mistakes in the database could 'result in 3.6 million workers a year being misidentified' as not authorized for employment.
In addition, 'Foreign-born American citizens are 30 times more likely than native born workers to be incorrectly identified as ineligible for work.'
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce too has consistently opposed a mandatory E-Verify program. In a press release, the chamber stated that 'Given the current economy, now is not the time to add more bureaucracy and billions of dollars in compliance costs to America's businesses.' Randy Johnson, the chamber's vice president on immigrant and labor issues, said, 'The Chamber supports legislative initiatives to develop and implement an electronic verification system, but first we must be sure that the system is effective, efficient, and manageable under real-world conditions.'
In contrast, Federation for American Immigration Reform strongly argued for including E-Verify in the final bill. Dan Stein, FAIR's president yesterday wrote: 'With millions losing jobs, it would be immoral for Senate leaders to neglect vital protections for U.S. workers.' He added, 'When spending nearly one trillion dollars of taxpayers' money to reinvigorate the economy, the American people expect programs such as E-Verify be not only included but made mandatory.'
EDITOR'S NOTE: The CIS report, 'If It's Fixed, Don't Break It: Moving Forward with E-Verify' highlights the importance of the program's capabilities and is available online at: http://www.cis.org/Everifyambush
The report's author, CIS Director of National Security Policy Janice Kephart, recently posted further consideration of E-verify, available online at: http://www.cis.org/node/1038
Local Democrats and Republicans speak out about the stimulus bill
By Ray Gomez
The KGNS News (Laredo, TX), February 10, 2009
The stimulus bill is set up to create thousands of jobs mostly in the construction industry but now some wonder if the right people will get the jobs.
Comments are beginning to circle the Internet warning that illegal immigrants may be the ones in line for the jobs they say some Americans just don't want.
Sergio Mora – Webb County Democratic Chair : “All these jobs are going to help America because theyre jobs that have been needed to be done for while.'
Randy Blair – Webb County Republican Chair : 'If its a true stimulus package it needs to be a package that can create jobs across the board now that can put money into the economy now and not just another spending bill.'
Even in Laredo, debate still continues over details of President Barack Obamas stimulus bill.
'While most admit the bill will help create jobs its the kind of jobs it will create thats raising questions for some.'
The bill calls for improvements on the country's infrastructure, therefore creating jobs mainly in the field of construction.
'No question that it is a part of the economy that is heavily hit but the entire economy has been hit.'
Creating such jobs he says just won't be enough to help the majority of Americans.
Some Internet articles suggest it wouldnt help Americans at all.
Newsmax.com reports that according to the center for immigration studies 15 percent of workers employed in construction in the United States are illegal immigrants, and if no one keeps a close eye of who gets the new jobs created, its possible about 300-thousand jobs will be held by illegals.
Not true says Democratic Chair Sergio Mora.
'I think President Obama surely has this in mind and will do everything to make sure these jobs go to whoever needs them the most.'
And while Republican Chair Randy Blair doesnt worry about jobs going to the wrong people, he still isn't happy with the bill.
'A lot of that spending is going to occur over 2 or 3 years, even economists are saying that in 2 years the economy will fix itself.'
Democratic Chair Sergio Mora says there are enough people that will do construction jobs, especially here in Laredo.
He says at this point anything will help.
Groups fight stimulus limit on workers with H-1B visas
By Chris Strohm
The Congress Daily (Washington, DC), February 10, 2009