Oregon Business Community Latest to Join Fight Against National E-Verify Bill

This week, business and agricultural communities across the U.S. continued the fight against mandatory E-verify, an electronic verification system requiring employers to use a federal database to verify the immigration status of employees. Over the weekend, thousands of protestors marched on Georgia’s state capitol to protest HB 87—a bill which contains mandatory E-Verify—adding their voice to the state’s agricultural community’s who fear the program will leave them without enough migrant workers to harvest crops. This week, a group of Oregon businesses joined the campaign against an enforcement-only E-Verify bill (H.R. 2164) introduced by immigration hawk Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) last month. The group called Rep. Smith’s measure a “recipe for disaster.”

This week, the Coalition for a Working Oregon, a group made up of 22 Oregon businesses, called out Smith’s proposal, highlighting E-Verify’s inaccuracies and calling for a “comprehensive retooling” of our broken immigration system. One member, Jeff Stone of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said Smith’s E-Verify bill is “a recipe for disaster, not only for agriculture but for the national economy.”

Smith’s national E-Verify bill, “Legal Workforce Act of 2011”, would make the employment verification system mandatory for all employers within three years. While immigration advocacy groups have highlighted problems with E-Verify for years, even the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the program for its accuracy rate, the fact that it snags U.S. citizens, and the additional fiscal burdens it adds to employers who don’t have the resources to implement the program.

Meanwhile, Rep. Smith claims his bill is a “jobs bill” that would “open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans.” A recent study by Oregon State University, however, reveals that E-Verify would actually cost Oregon 173,500 jobs in the short term (3 to 5 years)—shedding 97,500 undocumented workers and 76,000 legal workers. The study also estimates that Oregon would lose $650 million in tax revenue over the same period if E-Verify were mandatory. Clearly, E-Verify as a stand-alone enforcement bill is not exactly the jobs bill Rep. Smith describes.

The Coalition for a Working Oregon is not alone. In fact, business communities across the U.S. are looking for comprehensive reforms to our immigration system—reforms that account for current labor needs—not a mix of restrictive state laws that end up hurting small businesses and local economies. Hopefully, local groups will continue to raise their voices against enforcement-only bills dressed up as solutions and demand that Congress tackle real reforms to our immigration problems.

Photo by OAN.

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  • http://miracoalition.org/ Lisa from MIRA

    It’s not very often you see employers and employees united on the same issue, but mandatory e-verify would be disastrous for all. This is just Smith pandering to the anti-immigrant mentality that is sadly growing. Please check out the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s latest blog post on this subject – http://miracoalition.org/en/press-room/easyblog/entry/the-errors-of-e-verify.

  • Annette

    So what? If the e-Verify system has technical problems, then we need to fix them. What’s the big deal? You don’t throw out the entire concept of preventing employers from cheating by hiring illegal aliens just because a few technical problems need to be fixed. I suggest we start to implement the e-Verify system on a trail basis ASAP to work out the technical glitches. The government should just open the system up to all Americans who are looking for a job, then encourage employers to hire these “pre-verified” legal workers.

    Overall, there will be enormous benefits from e-Verify to the American taxpayers and the working and middle classes. We’ll finally be able to stop big agribusiness and other rich corporations from hiring illegal aliens and making the public pay for their housing, food and health insurance. When corporations have to follow the law and hire American citizens, our entire working class gets a leg up because lower paid immigrants aren’t undermining our own job security.

    Implementing this system will be a good thing. Unless you’re more interested in allowing a certain group of people cheat and jump ahead of the immigration lines. Are progressives really pushing that agenda? Prioritizing people who are willing to break the law rather than supporting immigrants who are willing to abide by the law and wait their turn?

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