Groups Urge Defeat of E-Verify Mandate

October 22, 2013

Adela de la Torre, [email protected], 213-400-7822

House Bill Would Throw Citizens and Authorized Workers Out of Jobs

Letter to Congress Signed by More Than 100 Groups Urges Defeat of E-Verify Mandate

WASHINGTON — In a letter sent to Congress today, more than 100 groups representing workers and immigrant, civil rights, and faith communities state their opposition to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1772), saying it would not repair the immigration system and would instead lessen worker protections and threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and authorized workers due to government errors.

The organizations noted in their letter that the measure, which would rapidly force every U.S. employer to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system such as E-Verify, would seriously hurt the economy by expanding the cash-driven underground economy operated by those seeking to avoid having to comply with regulations.

The Legal Workforce Act “represents an outdated, enforcement-only approach that threatens the livelihood of all workers, including U.S. citizens, while failing to provide real solutions for law-abiding employers,” the letter states.

“Not one single person should lose his or her job because of a government error or an employer’s failure to follow the program’s rules,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “Before this legislation is rushed to the House floor, our representatives should take a close look at the E-Verify system’s flaws and listen to the stories of real people who have lost jobs and suffered greatly due to errors in the databases on which E-Verify relies.”

A report by the National Immigration Law Center examines data from a recent government study of E-Verify and concludes that if E-Verify’s use were made mandatory, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and legally authorized workers would have to contact a government office or risk losing their job if they are flagged by the system.

Instead of being a “silver bullet” to find unauthorized workers, this bill, absent a program to legalize the immigration status of unauthorized workers, would “push employers and workers further into the underground economy, as paying workers cash or misclassifying the workers as independent contractors is the simplest way of not complying with the bill’s mandate,” according to the letter. The result would be a $17.3 billion loss in federal tax revenues, because this would increase the number of employers who resort to the black market outside of the regular economy.

The Senate-passed immigration reform legislation, which includes a path to citizenship for undocumented people, includes protections for workers, such as allowing workers to correct errors in the government databases on which E-Verify relies and also creating new penalties for employers who abuse the system. However, the enforcement-only Legal Workforce Act that has passed the House Judiciary Committee does not contain such protections.

Instead of a single enforcement-only bill that targets workers, Congress must act on commonsense immigration reform that supports our country’s economic vitality by providing work authorization and worker protections, the groups that signed the letter urge.

The letter to Congress is available at NILC’s report titled “Verification Nation: How E-Verify Affects America’s Workers” is available at

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