E-Verify can put Americans back to work | TheUnion.com

E-Verify can put Americans back to work

George Horrigan
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Some years ago I used to play golf on the weekend with a group of individuals, some of whom owned their own businesses or managed corporations. One of the players announced he had about 50 employees, all of whom worked under one Social Security number.

He followed the law, filed the information, Form 1-9, and waited to hear from the government. They never contacted him.

Each year, the government issues an average of 300,000 visas. Forty percent of the visa holders never leave the country and the government has no idea where they have gone. They become illegal immigrants, yet most are able to find jobs.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates 3.7 percent of the U.S. population is here illegally, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 9.3 million illegals out of the 12 million in the U.S. are working. The majority of illegal workers hold service, construction or manufacturing jobs. Pew lists only 4 percent of the workers are employed in agriculture. Thus the usual claim that illegal workers are taking the jobs that Americans will not do is not correct. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009):

— 77.7 percent of the 7.75 million workers in food preparation and serving jobs are native born.

— 65.8 percent of the 5.38 million workers in cleaning and maintenance jobs are native born.

— 74.5 percent of the 7.45 million workers in construction are native born.

— 75.9 percent of the 7.63 million workers in production jobs are native born.

Therefore, it is clear that these are jobs that Americans will do if paid a fair wage.

E-Verify was originally established in 1997 as the Basic Pilot Program created to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs. The program is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form 1-9 to data from Homeland Security and Social Security records to confirm employment eligibility. It compares U.S. passport and visa, immigration, naturalization, state-issued driver’s license, identity documentation and Social Security records. If the information matches, the case will receive an Employment Authorization result almost immediately. If the information does not match the case will receive a Tentative Non-confirmation Result. E-Verify notifies the employer of the mismatch and the employee is allowed to work whilst he or she resolves the problem. They must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight federal government working days from the referral date.

About 5 percent of queries are identified as “not authorized to work.” A 2008 study by the Center for Immigration Background Studies states that the E-Verify system is 99.5 percent accurate.

The program is voluntary in most states, but three states have moved to discourage its use. You guessed it — California is one of those three. In 2011, California passed an act to prohibit municipalities from mandating the use of E-Verify. You would think that our local politicians would be doing everything they could to protect the rights of American workers.

A few years ago, the government raided a meat processing business in Iowa. As many as 1,200 employees were identified as illegal immigrants and they were removed from their jobs. Within days the positions were filled by U.S. workers.

At about the same time, a business in the garment district in Los Angeles was raided and 25 percent of their employees were found to be illegal. The company did not go out of business; it hired U.S. workers to fill those jobs.

If President Obama goes ahead with his threat of granting work permits to millions of illegal workers, that will mean fewer jobs for Americans to hold. E-Verify was part of the Senate S744 Immigration Bill and was to be phased in over a five-year period, with penalties to employers if they violated this portion of the bill. Not enforcing this not only hurts Americans but also the immigrants, who receive lower pay, few, if any, benefits and no way to complain.

In conclusion, there is no reason to wait for an Immigration Bill to be passed by Congress when E-Verify could be implemented.

George Horrigan, who lives in Alta Sierra, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His opinion is his own and does not represent The Union or its editorial board.

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