At a time when Congress should be focusing on creating jobs, House Republicans -- led by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith -- are pushing to make E-Verify, the deeply flawed immigrant worker data base, mandatory. It's bad enough that E-Verify doesn't work, making it mandatory just makes matter worse -- and does nothing to address the single most important challenge before Congress today: job creation.
By forcing seven million employers in the U.S. to invest, not in expanding their businesses, but instead in plugging into an error-prone government database, E-Verify is a job-killing bill that we cannot afford at this time. Expanding and imposing a deeply flawed, bureaucratic system will not create jobs. Forcing every employer in the country to check every single worker's legal status will not create more jobs. Subjecting millions of workers, including U.S. citizens, to discrimination and potentially unfair firings will not help create good jobs. The truth is that this Republican attempt to vilify hardworking people will only push undocumented workers further into the shadows, do nothing to fix our broken immigration system and saddle employers with needless costs at a time when we need them to invest in our economy.
No matter how you slice it, Lamar Smith's mandatory E-Verify will do more economic harm than good. We need Congress to focus on solving our economic crisis, not to make it worse by passing partisan, job-killing legislation. To do this, we need a plan to create jobs and to fix our broken immigration system. If we don't do that first, we end up expanding the underground economy, resulting in more workers being paid under the table and kept off the books. More than $17 billion in tax revenues could be lost if workers fall off the tax rolls and into the cash economy driven by unscrupulous tax-cheating employers.
Our elected officials need to understand that the great American middle class wasn't something that just happened. It was built, brick by brick. It was built by soldiers returning from war and a government that took our obligation to them seriously, by giving them a shot at a college education. It was built by businesses that were ready to hire hardworking men and women and paid fair wages for a hard day's work. It was built by immigrants who came from all over the world looking for a better life and the American Dream.
With millions of Americans out of work, Congressional Republicans are dangerously off-track with this initiative to impose a flawed bureaucratic system that could cost nearly a million workers their jobs.
There is a better way to create jobs than letting Congressional Republicans play to the anti-immigrant crowd for their own political gain by pushing E-Verify. A better way starts with helping businesses to invest their money wisely in creating jobs and not foolishly loading them down with the onerous costs of putting a flawed system into place. And this better way is helped by reforming our immigration system to require undocumented immigrants to register, pay fines, learn English, thereby making them full participants in our economic recovery. Putting job creation first means sending job-killing bills like E-Verify straight to the end of the line.