House Representative Lamar Smith’s E-Verify Bill Could Help End Illegal Immigration
In an op-ed for The Hill, House Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) explained how his bill would be a game-changer in the fight against illegal immigration.
Specifically, the Legal Workforce Act would mandate the use of E-Verify for all employers, making it impossible for employers to hire illegal aliens by removing any doubt as to their legal status—no more could uncertainty regarding someone’s legal status be used as a shield from legal liability.
Essentially, the bill would make hiring illegal aliens dangerous: the risk would no longer be worth the reward.
This bill would compliment President Trump’s myriad other immigration reforms—in fact, it could be the linchpin.
Here’s how it works, according to Representative Smith:
The Legal Workforce Act opens up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans by requiring employers to use E-Verify. The bill creates a fully electronic employment eligibility verification system.
The E-Verify system is quick and effective, confirming 99 percent of work-eligible employees (source: USCIS). Over 740,000 businesses voluntarily use E-Verify and an average of 1,500 new employers sign up for it each week. One-third of American jobs are now protected by E-Verify.
And the program is free and easy to use. In fact, E-Verify is available for use on smart phones and takes about two minutes.
Individuals provide their Social Security Number when they visit a doctor, open a bank account, or buy a home. It makes sense that businesses be able to check the Social Security Number of prospective employees to ensure they have a legal workforce.
Under the Legal Workforce Act, employers use E-Verify to check the work eligibility of new hires. And it allows employers to voluntarily check their current workforce if done in a non-discriminatory manner.
Basically, E-Verify allows employers to check someone’s citizenship status (which is not something that’s open to confusion) when hiring them. Therefore, they will whether or not they’re hiring an illegal alien—this removes all doubt in the eyes of the law.
The verification requirement is phased-in and the length of time depends on the size of the employer’s business. Smaller businesses have two years to implement E-Verify and agricultural businesses have two-and-a-half years.
The legislation gives employers a “safe harbor” so they cannot be held liable if they use the system in good faith.
Penalties are increased on employers who knowingly violate the requirements of E-Verify and criminal penalties are imposed on employers and employees who engage in or facilitate identity theft.
Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens will be subject to legal penalties.
The idea is that doing so will remove the lure that draws so many illegal aliens to America: jobs. Once the jobs dry up, so will the migrant flow.
This is a reasonable supposition, and should take care of a large part of the problem.
However, E-Verify is not a panacea: we must remember that many illegal immigrants are drawn to America for
(1) illicit purposes, selling drugs is highly profitable for Mexican and Central American cartels and gangs;
(2) welfare, which is a major draw depending upon the state, for example California spends nearly 20 percent of its state budget caring for illegals,
(3) the lure of a better life, away from the dangers of their homeland.
Some of these lures are inherent, others require different solutions—like building the wall.