Thu June 16, 2011

Colorado Immigrant Group Warns of Dire Consequences if E-Verify Expanded

A Colorado immigrant rights group is denouncing a bill that would require mandatory use of the employment verification system, E-Verify, nationwide.

On Tuesday, Texas Republican Representative Lamar Smith introduced The Legal Workforce Act of 2011 – which would make it mandatory for U.S. businesses to verify new workers’ legal status through a government database. 

“But, the database that they use is the Social Security database, which is fraught with errors and they use a couple of other databases which are also very error prone,” says Alan Kaplan.  He is the Director for Communications and Civic Engagement for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, a statewide organization of about 70 groups that work with immigrants.  He says the coalition would rather see employment verification as part of a larger immigration reform package.

“We’re very much for border security, we’re very much for employment protection. We just feel like without addressing the legalization aspect of it, all we’re doing is creating suffering and forcing people further underground,” he adds.

Opponents say that illegal immigrants won’t just up and leave the country if E-Verify is expanded and mandated, but will rather go further into the underground economy.  They also say it will plunge the economy deeper into recession, harm small businesses and hurt communities.

Supporters maintain that expanded use of E-Verify will help cut the unemployment rate, by making sure jobs go to legal citizens, rather than illegal immigrants.  

"With unemployment at 9 percent, jobs are scarce," Representative Smith said in a statement. "Despite record unemployment, seven million people work in the U.S. illegally. These jobs should go to legal workers.

The agricultural industry would likely be hardest hit, and they largely oppose making E-Verify mandatory.  Under this bill, they would be given 3 years to comply, rather than the 2 everyone else will have.

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