The White House announced that it would create 600,000 new jobs in the next 100 days. This is leaving many lawmakers upset that the E-Verify employee verification program has been pushed back for a fourth time to September 8.
E-Verify is an online employment verification system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The simple and effective program allows participating employers to check the work status of new hires online by comparing information from an employee’s I-9 form against SSA and DHS databases.
Currently the program is being used by more than 100,000 employers who have checked approximately 6.5 million potential employees in the 2008 fiscal year, according to DHS.
The popularity of this free and effective program has been overwhelming, says Meg Whitman, 2010 GOP California governor front runner. Republican lawmakers believe that this program is an essential tool for employers who are committed to maintaining a legal workforce.
According to DHS, the number of new employers using the program is increasing by more than 1,000 per week. Under the Bush administration all federal contractors and subcontractors were to be required to verify all employees through the program by June 30, however, the Obama administration has delayed enforcement of the program.
“The administration needs to stop playing political games and rectify this situation immediately so taxpayer money isn’t funding illegitimate employment and hard-working citizens aren’t pushed to the back of the employment line,” House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Harold Rodgers, R-Ky. said.
At a time when jobs are hard to come by many lawmakers are questioning the reason for the DHS lagging attitude with E-Verify. “American workers should not have to compete with illegal immigrants for employment, especially taxpayer-funded federal contract jobs,” House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith said.
Echoing that sentiment is Congressman Bilbray R-Calif. “a lot of the jobs that will be created through the stimulus bill are construction-related. It is these jobs that are often taken by illegal immigrants and I think it is flat out wrong to be helping those who are not in this country legally.”
Bilbray contends that E-Verify is so easy to operate congress can use it. “Putting off this simple verification process to prevent employers from hiring illegal citizens is just wrong.”
During a speech at the Aspen Institute in Washington on June 3, the head of DHS Janet Napolitano praised the E-Verify program.
“We’ll be asking the Congress as part of our ongoing efforts in the immigration field to reauthorize E-Verify to put more money into E-Verify as part of our budget.” She went on to say that in an effort to crack down on employers DHS “ought to have mechanisms to make it easier for them (employers) to comply with the law.”
Critics of the program claim there are too many errors, however according to DHS the numbers remain under 5 percent.
Then why has the White House put off the implementation of E-Verify? Bill Wright of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says it is not politically motivated. “The new administration just needs an adequate opportunity to review the rule.”
One of the proponents of E-Verify is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who has filed a lawsuit challenging the rule. The case is pending within the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
In the end, delaying E-Verify will result in less enforcement and more rewards for those here illegally, according to Bilbray. “Americans citizens are the ones who will lose.”