E-Verify, Employers & Employment, Immigration, Labor, Legislation, Research and Studies, Undocumented Workers

Mandatory E-Verify Would Hurt American jobs

From TheHill.com, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), 20 Jun 2011.


The new congressional majority says it wants to grow the economy and reduce the size of government. But the “Legal Workforce Act,” introduced this week by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, seems to confuse those goals. By requiring all employers to use E-Verify, the bill grows the government and adds tens of billions to the burden already shouldered by taxpayers. At the same time, it shrinks our economy, decimates at least one industry, and destroys millions of jobs.

All that, and the program it mandates doesn’t even work half the time.

Since 2005, every serious proposal to fix our broken immigration laws has included an electronic system to ensure we have a legal workforce. Some now wants to move E-Verify on its own. But our system has been broken for far too long for one-sided solutions. Without other reforms to fix the entire system, mandatory E-Verify would cause tremendous damage to our economy and kill American jobs.
The majority says that every time we remove an undocumented worker from the country, we open that job for a native-born worker. But this ignores the realities of our complex economy and E-Verify’s danger to American workers.  A bill cannot be said to protect jobs when it destroys many more jobs than it ostensibly saves.

Let’s be clear: mandatory E-Verify does not mean that undocumented workers will leave the country. It catches undocumented workers less than half the time. The government’s own statistics show that only 46 percent of undocumented workers are caught; the other 54 percent slip through.

Employers can also simply move these workers “off-the-books” or misclassify them as independent contractors, which this bill does nothing about. This is what happened in Arizona after it made E-Verify mandatory: the majority of undocumented workers stayed right in Arizona and either went off-the-books or became contractors. A full half of employers didn’t use the “mandatory” E-Verify system at all.

Mandating it nationwide would be very costly for American taxpayers.  The Congressional Budget Office has scored other mandatory E-Verify bills and has concluded that mandating E-Verify without other reforms would cost taxpayers $17.3 billion in lost tax revenues, as employers and employees move into the underground economy.

This bill also disproportionately affects small businesses, the engines of job creation in America, which will now have to comply with the burden of the 86-page E-Verify manual. A recent Bloomberg Government study concluded that mandatory E-Verify would cost small businesses about $2.6 billion every year, and this bill is even more burdensome than that study anticipated. Imposing massive costs on small businesses will not create jobs or grow our economy.

E-Verify will also prevent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans from working. The Social Security Administration has estimated that mandatory E-Verify would force 3.6 million workers to go to SSA to correct their records or lose their jobs. That assumes the employer even tells them there’s a problem.

An independent study funded by the Department of Homeland Security shows that up to 42% of applicants flagged by the system are never told about it, can’t correct their records, and can’t get hired. At a time of 9 percent unemployment, putting millions of workers’ jobs on the line is irresponsible.

Finally, some industries, like agriculture, are at least partially dependent on undocumented workers. Losing the 75 percent of farmworkers who are undocumented would be disastrous for American agriculture. And if American farms go under, all of the upstream and downstream jobs supported by agriculture would be off-shored.

Smith’s bill provides a short-term solution by delaying the effects of E-Verify in agriculture—a candid recognition that our farmers need undocumented farmworkers. But the bill does nothing to fix the underlying problem, and it ultimately requires farmers to check all their workers—essentially making the bill a ticking time bomb.

We can’t fix the immigration system by doubling down on the short-sighted, ineffective enforcement policies that make it broken to begin with. Making E-Verify mandatory will do nothing to fix immigration, but will do a lot of damage to every level of our economy.

The new congressional majority says it wants to grow the economy and reduce the size of government. But the “Legal Workforce Act,” introduced this week by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, seems to confuse those goals. By requiring all employers to use E-Verify, the bill grows the government and adds tens of billions to the burden already shouldered by taxpayers. At the same time, it shrinks our economy, decimates at least one industry, and destroys millions of jobs.

All that, and the program it mandates doesn’t even work half the time.

 

Since 2005, every serious proposal to fix our broken immigration laws has included an electronic system to ensure we have a legal workforce. Some now wants to move E-Verify on its own. But our system has been broken for far too long for one-sided solutions. Without other reforms to fix the entire system, mandatory E-Verify would cause tremendous damage to our economy and kill American jobs.

The majority says that every time we remove an undocumented worker from the country, we open that job for a native-born worker. But this ignores the realities of our complex economy and E-Verify’s danger to American workers.  A bill cannot be said to protect jobs when it destroys many more jobs than it ostensibly saves.

Let’s be clear: mandatory E-Verify does not mean that undocumented workers will leave the country. It catches undocumented workers less than half the time. The government’s own statistics show that only 46 percent of undocumented workers are caught; the other 54 percent slip through.

Employers can also simply move these workers “off-the-books” or misclassify them as independent contractors, which this bill does nothing about. This is what happened in Arizona after it made E-Verify mandatory: the majority of undocumented workers stayed right in Arizona and either went off-the-books or became contractors. A full half of employers didn’t use the “mandatory” E-Verify system at all.

Mandating it nationwide would be very costly for American taxpayers.  The Congressional Budget Office has scored other mandatory E-Verify bills and has concluded that mandating E-Verify without other reforms would cost taxpayers $17.3 billion in lost tax revenues, as employers and employees move into the underground economy.

This bill also disproportionately affects small businesses, the engines of job creation in America, which will now have to comply with the burden of the 86-page E-Verify manual. A recent Bloomberg Government study concluded that mandatory E-Verify would cost small businesses about $2.6 billion every year, and this bill is even more burdensome than that study anticipated. Imposing massive costs on small businesses will not create jobs or grow our economy.

E-Verify will also prevent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans from working. The Social Security Administration has estimated that mandatory E-Verify would force 3.6 million workers to go to SSA to correct their records or lose their jobs. That assumes the employer even tells them there’s a problem.

An independent study funded by the Department of Homeland Security shows that up to 42% of applicants flagged by the system are never told about it, can’t correct their records, and can’t get hired. At a time of 9 percent unemployment, putting millions of workers’ jobs on the line is irresponsible.

Finally, some industries, like agriculture, are at least partially dependent on undocumented workers. Losing the 75 percent of farmworkers who are undocumented would be disastrous for American agriculture. And if American farms go under, all of the upstream and downstream jobs supported by agriculture would be off-shored.

Smith’s bill provides a short-term solution by delaying the effects of E-Verify in agriculture—a candid recognition that our farmers need undocumented farmworkers. But the bill does nothing to fix the underlying problem, and it ultimately requires farmers to check all their workers—essentially making the bill a ticking time bomb.

We can’t fix the immigration system by doubling down on the short-sighted, ineffective enforcement policies that make it broken to begin with. Making E-Verify mandatory will do nothing to fix immigration, but will do a lot of damage to every level of our economy.

Source: TheHill.com, “Mandatory E-Verify would hurt American jobs” by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), 20 Jun 2011.

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