Should Employers Be Forced To Use Federal Employer Identification Technology?
Business leaders testified in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to discuss whether employers should legally be forced to use the federal employment verification system known as E-Verify.
By comparing employee information to federal data, E-Verify seek to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants. Now lawmakers and business leaders have gathered to discuss whether the House of Representatives should pass the Legal Workforce Act which would require all employers to use the system.
The Legal Workforce Act isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to make E-Verify mandatory for all businesses. Since the system was established in 1997 as the Basic Pilot Program, it has been expanded on the state and federal level on numerous occasions. Some states have passed legislation making it mandatory for certain businesses while other states require all employers to use it.
Randel Johnson, the senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, notes that though his organization has opposed prior expansions of E-Verify, recent improvements have made them reconsider their position.
“During the period 2006 to 2009 we testified five times and on each occasion, the Chamber, while supporting broad reforms to our legal immigration system, expressed opposition to the mandatory expansion of E-Verify without extensive improvements to the workability and reliability of what we saw as a burdensome system,” Johnson detailed in his statement before the House Judiciary Committee.
“However, in light of improvements in E-Verify, its use by federal contractors, and the focus on a more reliable employment verification system as a necessity, as well as a logical prerequisite to further immigration reform, the U.S. Chamber reassessed its position,” Johnson concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), Chuck Conner argued that expanding the verification system would have a proudly negative impact on American farmers and businesses.
“While the AWC recognizes the need for interior enforcement, a mechanism such as mandatory E-verify would have a devastating impact on our industry in the absence of a legislative solution for agriculture’s labor needs,” Conner noted in his statement to the committee.
“Immigration enforcement without a program flexible enough to address the labor needs of fruit, vegetable, dairy and nursery farms, and ranches, will result in many U.S. farmers and their farm employees losing their livelihoods and an overall decrease in U.S. agricultural production,” Conner argued. “The effect would go far beyond the farm gate.”
Angelo Amador, the senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association, sees a federally enforced system as a much better alternative to each state passing their own, and often contradictory, rules.
“Actions by 50 different states and numerous local governments in passing a patchwork quilt of employment verification laws create an untenable system for employers and their prospective employees,” Amador argued. “Our members, be they large restaurant chains, or regional chains, or even small restaurants with a couple of locations on different sides of a state line, should not be asked to try to keep up with any number of differing—potentially conflicting—regulations, all covering the same workplace transaction.”
In a letter sent to House leaders, dozens of unions and labor organizations warned that the law will backfire without legalization of the immigration system.
“Mandating E-Verify without providing for legalization will threaten our nation’s economy and will send workers and businesses into the underground economy,” the letter detailed. “E-Verify is not a silver bullet to catch unauthorized workers; instead mandating its use will only push employers and workers further into the underground economy, as paying workers cash or misclassifying the workers as independent contractors is the simplest way of not complying with the bill’s mandate.”
The letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and many others.
Labor unions have been long time supporters of immigration reform and even backed the president’s recent controversial amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
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