Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hispanic Chamber Asking for Calls to Congress to Stop Expansion of Flawed Program

PROBLEM

The House Appropriations Committee made a serious mistake when it approved an amendment to the economic stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) that would require all businesses and other public or private “entities” that receive money from the stimulus package to use the flawed federal E-Verify program (aka Basic Pilot).

The amendment represents a massive expansion of the E-Verify program.  As has been well documented by three different House committees in five separate hearings, the E-Verify program is deeply flawed, inaccurate, and subject to substantial employer abuse.  Bottom line – it is not ready for a massive expansion and especially not during the economic crisis because of the cost to employers, like the ones we represent.

E-Verify is a voluntary internet-based program intended to allow employers to electronically verify the information that workers present to prove their employment eligibility by accessing information in databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Approximately 100,000 employers are enrolled in (though not necessarily using) E-Verify – slightly more than 1 percent of the approximately 7.4 million employers in the U.S.

WHAT WE NEED YOU TO DO

1.      CALL Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-0100

2.      CALL Chairman David Obey at 202-225-3365

3.      CALL Democratic and Republican Members of the Appropriations Committee who live in your state (see below)

TELL CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TODAY:

*    You oppose weighing down the stimulus package with E-Verify requirements and want them stripped.

*    Including E-Verify in the stimulus package imposes new and costly requirements on small businesses, state and local governments, schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations which counteracts the purpose and effect of the stimulus.

*    Delaying the receipt of stimulus funds by effectively forcing employers to use E-verify harms all American workers, businesses and the economy.

*    Caving in to a minority, interested only in using immigration as a political wedge issue, is not the type of leadership Americans-particularly New Americans and Latinos-voted for in the last election.USHCC URGENT ACTION ALERT – Anti-Employer Immigration Language in Stimulus

Why the E-Verify Requirement Should Not Be Included in the Stimulus Bill
The amendment would delay implementation of the stimulus.

The vast majority of entities that would be eligible to receive stimulus funds (including public schools, hospitals, and local governments) do not now participate in E-Verify.They would be precluded from participation until and unless they formally decide to do so and go through the process of applying, signing the required memorandum of understanding, training staff, and implementing the program.

This could take weeks or months depending on the size and other characteristics of the affected entity.  Some, including churches, small businesses and others, may choose to forgo the stimulus altogether rather than participate in the program.

The amendment imposes exorbitant costs at a time when our economy is most vulnerable.

A federal rule, similar to the provision included in the stimulus package, that would require all federal contractors to use E-Verify would result in net societal costs of $10 billion a year.

Imposing these costs would be particularly unwise now, as our economy deepens into recession.  In particular, such costs will have a disproportionate effect on small businesses and their ability to contribute to the economy.

Small businesses employ approximately half of the entire U.S. workforce and have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade. These businesses, already struggling in the current economy, will face additional burdens and unanticipated problems if they are required to use Basic Pilot/E-Verify, potentially harming their ability to create new jobs and revenue.

Mandatory participation in Basic Pilot/E-Verify would further increase the cost of doing business in a tough economic climate.

· According to the American Council on International Personnel, nationally, the reason 99 percent of employers have not enrolled in E-Verify is not because they are hiring undocumented workers or shirking their employment verification responsibilities, but rather because Basic Pilot/E-Verify enrollment is not easy or efficient.

  • Ask any small business about E-Verify and you are likely to hear stories like the following:
    According to a manager of a small business in Maryland, it takes seriously its legal obligation to confirm its employees are eligible to work in the U.S., but has not enrolled in E-Verify because it does not have “the luxury of a large human resources department” and the costs for one year would total approximately $27,000.

1       MCL Enterprises, an employer in Arizona, found the process of registering to use E-Verify “extremely costly” and “disruptive” to operations.

E-Verify is riddled with errors-and these errors result in unjust firings, failure to hire qualified workers, delayed employment, and lost productivity.

· Although DHS claims that the error rates are low, that is not what U.S. businesses report:
· Almost 13 percent of workers run through E-Verify by Intel Corporation in 2008 could not be confirmed.  All of these workers were eventually cleared by E-Verify as work-authorized, but “only after significant investment of time and money” and “lost productivity” Intel reported.

1 The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman interviewed a variety of employers in Arizona (where use of E-Verify is mandatory) and found the “concern most frequently identified” is that “temporary non-confirmations (the notice employers receive when the federal databases cannot confirm a worker’s employment eligibility) are “issued on work-authorized individuals.”  That’s U.S. citizens and legal residents being denied work or having their employment delayed by a dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Mandatory E-Verify will hurt U.S. workers – the very workers this amendment purports to protect.

U.S. citizen Abel Pacheco went to look for a job in Arizona when he lost his job as a truck driver because of the worsening economy.  He applied with eight different companies, but couldn’t figure out why no one called him back with a job offer.  When he finally found work, his new employer notified him that E-Verify couldn’t confirm his work eligibility, which turned out to be due to an error in SSA’s database.  Pacheco cleared up the problem, but those few weeks of lost income had a serious financial impact on his family.

Ken Nagel, a restaurant owner in Phoenix, Arizona, used E-Verify after he recently hired one of his own daughters, a native-born U.S. citizen.  Upon feeding her information into the system, it could not confirm his daughter’s eligibility to be employed in the U.S.

Carmen Ruiz, a U.S. citizen, applied for a position with a temporary agency in California, only to be turned away because E-Verify was unable to confirm her. The employer did not advise her of her right to contest the finding and instead required her to show additional documents. She was unemployed for over 4 months without health insurance and was diagnosed with a serious illness during that time.

The 2007 independent evaluation of E-Verify found “substantial” employer misuse of the program.

Specifically, employers engaged in prohibited employment practices, including pre-employment screening; adverse employment action; and failure to inform workers of their rights under the program.

These are long-standing problems that DHS has failed to address since they were first identified in 2002.  Requiring participation in the program by all entities that receive stimulus funds without addressing these violations effectively permits employers to continue abusing the program and violating employee rights.

    Mandatory E-Verify will exacerbate employer abuse of the system.

Politically, this Congress has an opportunity to set a new tone of substance over symbolism and inclusion over division.

· Imposing E-Verify on a broader swath of the economy under the guise of the stimulus package is throwing red meat to the “deportation-only” elements who see immigration as a divisive political wedge to use as a bludgeon, not to solve as lawmakers.

1       New voters turned out in record numbers to elect this Congress and their reward should not be a kowtow to the wedge politics of immigration.

2       Real solutions to our nation’s economic woes and real solutions to the substantial problems of our immigration system should be top priorities for this Congress and should be approached thoughtfully and seriously.

3       Americans have been inspired by the new administration’s goals of changing “business as usual.” This is an opportunity for Congress to show its leadership and pass an economic stimulus package that will help all American workers and businesses rather than allowing anti-immigrant and anti-worker groups to turn this critical bill into an immigration enforcement issue.

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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