The recent passage of mandatory E-Verify by the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee brings us one step closer to ending the root cause of most illegal immigration into the United States: outlaw businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Illegal border crossings, visa overstays, and children born in the United States to parents here illegally would all be dramatically reduced or eliminated if we ended the ability for outlaw employers to take advantage of immigrants that arrive here illegally.
There are hundreds of thousands of young-adult children of undocumented immigrants that have been here since childhood because we have allowed outlaw employers to hire and employ their parents illegally for decades. Roughly one-half of the nation’s undocumented immigrant population results from visitors who entered legally but who do not leave when their time is up because Congress continues to refuse to mandate the well-tested and widely-used E-Verify system. When visitors sense that illegal employment is widespread, the temptation to break their visa agreements grows stronger.
E-Verify would greatly reduce the magnet for illegal labor. Worldwide, at this very moment, people are enticed to illegally cross borders and overstay their visas in search of jobs that should belong to an American or someone who came here legally. Fewer people from around the world would make the attempt if we could ensure employers hire only those here lawfully and have work authorization.
The bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) is called the Legal Workforce Act of 2017, H.R. 3711, and it would require every employer in the U.S. to use E-Verify to determine whether new hires are authorized to work.
The law now requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States — either U.S. citizens, or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization. E-Verify is a free, fast and easy internet-based system that allows employers to determine one thing and one thing only: the eligibility of their new hires to work in the United States.
One of the claims put forward by E-Verify detractors is the false charge that it would create a massive federal database. E-Verify is not a database at all but a system that takes the same information every new hire already puts on an I-9 paper form and via the internet confirms, usually within a matter of a few seconds, whether that information is accurate and the employee is authorized to work in the United States. Because E-Verify itself deters undocumented immigrants from applying for jobs they aren’t authorized for, new hires of employers who use E-Verify are immediately authorized nearly 99 percent of the time.
If a new hire receives a “tentative non-confirmation,” that employee continues to work while correcting any inaccurate information on files – inaccuracies that could prevent the individual from receiving government benefits, such as future Social Security payouts.
Employees also can protect themselves from identity theft with E-Verify “Self-Lock” which allows workers to proactively protect themselves against ID theft, while confirming that their vital personal information is accurate and up-to-date.
For law-abiding employers, E-Verify offers instant verification of employment eligibility and peace of mind that their workforce is comprised of legal workers. E-Verify is free, fast, and takes the guesswork out of determining employment eligibility. The Legal Workforce Act would also grant employers who use E-Verify in good faith safe harbor from prosecution should an unauthorized worker be wrongly authorized by the system.
We have looked the other way for decades as outlaw employers have depressed incomes for Americans and those here legally. Most Americans want citizens and legal immigrants already here to get priority for U.S. jobs over citizens from other countries who are in the U.S. illegally. E-Verify helps accomplish that.
Ken Blackwell was a domestic policy advisor to the Trump presidential transition team.