Thursday, July 23, 2009

Congress Must Fix Before Expanding Employment Verification Programs Programs Should Only Be Discussed in Context of Wider Reform

July 23, 2009

Washington D.C. - As Congress holds hearings and introduces plans for expansion of an Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS) like E-verify, it has become clear that some version of employment verification will be part of comprehensive immigration reform. However, much remains to be done before EEVS is ready for prime time. The following is a statement from Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center:

"E-Verify received a lot of attention on Capitol Hill this week, but the radically different approaches to its implementation considered by Congress reinforces our observation that it is not ready for prime time. The Senate Immigration Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer, held a hearing that looked at an expanded E-Verify program as part of an integrated component of comprehensive immigration reform. In contrast, Congressman Heath Shuler announced the reintroduction of a previously failed bill, the SAVE Act, which calls for mandatory expansion of E-Verify without fixing our broken immigration system.

Senator Schumer understands that we can't implement a mandatory electronic employment-verification system like E-Verify in its present form, without serious protections and revisions to it. While there remains significant disagreement over what those protections should look like, there is a clear understanding that the gravity of implementing a mandatory program that has the potential to affect every individual's ability to work - citizen or immigrant - requires thoughtful consideration and analysis.

We mustn't forget that employment verification affects every person who works in the U.S. - not just undocumented immigrants - and Congress must move forward carefully. Any expansion of E-Verify must be part of wider reform which requires current unauthorized workers to legalize their status and gives employers legal channels through which they may hire needed legal workers. Attempting to implement a mandatory E-Verify program without such reforms, as Congressman Shuler envisions, is a recipe for disaster.

Mandatory E-verify could put thousands of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants at risk of losing their jobs, will be expensive for small businesses at a time when the economy is weak, places additional pressures on the already overburdened Social Security Administration, and does not guarantee that undocumented workers will not get jobs. Every effort must be made to ensure that a new and expanded EEVS program will actually serve its intended purpose."

View IPC's Fact Check on the Key Components of Employment Verification Systems:

* 10 Key Components for Workable and Effective Electronic Employment Verification System, (IPC Fact Check), July 23, 2009

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For press inquiries contact Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or wsefsaf@ailf.org