With the so-called ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ (a.k.a. amnesty legislation) stalled in the House of Representatives, the focus has shifted to individual components of the reform effort. A key component is the effort to deny jobs to illegal aliens – thereby denying an incentive for illegal immigration for both border jumpers and visa violators.
The mandate of Congress in 1996 to set up a system to allow employers to determine whether a new employee was legally entitled to work in the United States evolved into the current E-Verify electronic system that thwarts the use of fake Social Security Numbers and fake immigration documents. But it remains crippled because it is still a voluntary program in most states.
Despite a general consensus in Congress that the verification system should be a requirement for all employers – the Senate included it in S.744, and it passed in committee in the House in June (H.R.1772) – it is being held hostage by the Democrats who insist it must be part of their ‘comprehensive’ amnesty effort.
Of course, businesses that benefit from illegal alien labor oppose the E-Verify expansion because it would expose them to punishment for knowingly hiring illegal workers if they continued to do so.
Those exploiters of illegal workers have a friend in the Cato Institute. Cato opposes any restrictions on the unchecked freedom of employers to bypass American workers and hire whomever they want. Alex Nowrasteh, writing for Cato on thefederalist.com website, called E-Verify, an “expensive and wrongheaded labor market regulation.”
But Cato – and the Democrats holding E-Verify hostage to an amnesty – should be heeding the interests of the vast majority of employers who are law-abiding and will benefit from having a level playing field that prevents unscrupulous competitors from gaining a competitive advantage by intentionally hiring illegal alien workers.
“I am tired of losing work to people who cheat the system and undercut my prices because they don’t have the same overhead as I have because I follow the rules,” said Charlie Arnold, a Delaware businessman who runs a power-washing firm. “I am for it [mandatory E-Verify] simply because in the long run it will help my business.”