Can the words “consensus” and “immigration” even appear in the same sentence? Absolutely. In fact, more than 80 percent of voters (including 82.8 percent of Democrats and 85.7 percent of independents) believe illegal immigration is “a problem” or a “serious problem,” according to a national exit poll of 1,000 voters conducted by Zogby during the recent midterm elections.
The poll also found a plurality of voters, nearly 47 percent, were more likely to vote for “candidates who support stronger border and immigration enforcement and who oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.”
But if there was a single immigration-related issue that cut across both political and ethnic lines, it would be the striking and overwhelming support for mandatory E-Verify. In fact, the support for mandatory E-Verify if so broad and so deep that it would be an ideal issue for Congress to focus on during the lame duck session, giving members who have publicly bickered over other areas of the immigration debate something to agree on before the sun sets on the 115th Congress forever.
The Zogby exit poll showed that mandatory E-Verify enjoys a lopsided level of support from voters, with nearly 74 percent in support and only 9 percent in opposition. And this support cuts across all political boundaries, with almost 55 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents and nearly 91 percent of Republicans in support. Support also solidly cuts across all ethnic boundaries, with 58 percent of Hispanic voters, 52 percent of black voters, 74 percent of Asian voters and 80 percent of white voters in support of the law.
E-Verify is a web-based system that allows employers to authenticate the legal work eligibility of an applicant after they have been offered a job. It works in much the same way as a merchant swipes a credit card, and has been found to be more than 99 percent accurate, is free to use, and takes only about five seconds to complete.
Why the widespread support? Americans understand that while it might be against the law to hire an illegal alien, the illegal document industry has worked overtime to provide illegal aliens with the documentation they need to be hired, and keep an American job. And without turning off the jobs magnet that draws illegal immigrants to the U.S., other steps we take to regain control of immigration will only be undermined.
Without E-Verify in place, most employers are currently stuck guessing about the validity of documents presented to them, and illegal aliens — who are anything but “undocumented immigrants” — are seemingly always able to get their hands on an endless supply of fake or stolen documents. E-Verify would render forged documents useless while offering employers an easy tool for ensuring the legality of workers. Unfortunately, it’s only used in a handful of states, and elsewhere it is voluntary.
Making E-Verify mandatory nationally would ensure that illegal aliens are locked out of good paying American jobs while allowing some of America’s most disadvantaged workers to have their shot at the American dream. Despite the fact that unemployment is historically low, there remains large swaths of the population that have yet to land the job that will pull them out of despair.
Perhaps most importantly, mandatory E-Verify will end the lure of good-paying jobs that entice visitors to overstay their visas (who constitute roughly half of our illegal alien population) while also taking a huge amount of pressure off our borders by those who think they can sneak in and easily steal a U.S. job.
If President Trump is going to deliver on his promise of real immigration reform, E-Verify is the easiest place to start. With widespread public support and a Congress that seems eager to achieve some deal on immigration, mandatory E-Verify is politically achievable before the end of the year.
Dave Ray is director of communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit group that advocates for legal immigration.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.