Legal Workforce Act Too Costly

Too Costly for Employers, Workers, and Taxpayers

MARCH 2015
Notes and citations available in the PDF version.

The Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1147), which the House Judiciary Committee approved on March 3, 2015, would require every employer in the U.S. to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system (EEVS) patterned on E-Verify. Rather than offering a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, this bill focuses only on immigration enforcement, failing to provide a road to citizenship for any of the 11 million aspiring citizens living in the U.S. Unfortunately, the bill is an expensive nonsolution. If passed, it would burden employers, workers, and taxpayers.

H.R. 1147 is too costly for employers.

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the Legal Workforce Act, as introduced in the last legislative session, would cost private sector employers over $600 million over three years.But employers should be using their revenue to grow their businesses, hire workers, and help build our economy—not to pay costs imposed by a flawed enforcement program.
  • According to data compiled by Bloomberg, requiring all employers to use E-Verify could cost small businesses $2.6 billion. Bloomberg estimates that small business owners who used E-Verify in fiscal year 2010 had to spend $81 million on it.
  • Requiring employers to use E-Verify will devastate agricultural employers. Over half of the U.S. agricultural labor force is unauthorized. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that for every on-farm job there are about 3.1 “upstream” and “downstream” jobs in the U.S., the vast majority of which are held by U.S. workers. For every undocumented farm worker who loses his or her job, three American jobs are lost.

H.R. 1147 puts workers’ jobs at risk.

  • Simply put, E-Verify errors will cause people to lose jobs. If the Legal Workforce Act becomes law, approximately 170,000 to 450,000 U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and work-authorized noncitizens would either have to contact a government agency to correct an E ‘Verify–related error or risk losing their jobs.
  • When workers are notified that the information they’ve provided doesn’t match the information in E ‘Verify’s databases, they face significant burdens trying to correct their records. A government-commissioned study found that almost half of such workers lost partial or complete days of work, and 14 percent lost more than two days of work. Many such workers must make multiple trips to a Social Security Administration (SSA) office and wait in long lines to correct their records.
    • Money out of workers’ pockets. If a worker is paid the federal minimum wage, losing half a day of work due to an E-Verify error would cost her $29. A full day of work would cost her $58. And if it took her two full days to correct the error, as it does many workers, the unpaid days off would cost her $116 in lost earnings.
    • Extra expenses for workers. Some workers have to travel a long distance to an SSA office to correct an E-Verify error. If the closest SSA office is 25 miles from where the worker lives and he has to drive there, he will spend, just on gas, about $6.00 per trip.Considering that workers usually have to make multiple trips to an SSA office to fix an error, these costs will be doubled, tripled, or more, depending on how many times he must visit the office.
    • Low-wage workers. Many workers are trying to scrape by on the minimum wage, or, in some cases, even subminimum wages. Having to pay E-Verify–related costs would be anadded burden that they should not have to bear.

H.R. 1147 is too expensive for taxpayers.

  • According to the CBO, enacting the Legal Workforce Act would increase federal budget deficits by$30 billion and cost the federal government—and U.S. taxpayers—over $1 billion to implement.
  • The $1 billion that would have to be spent to implement the E-Verify nonsolution would be better spent:
    • providing 341,296,928 free meals to school children
    • helping build 26,411 units for low-income housing
    • helping keep 3,412,969 low-income families warm
    • providing three months of counseling to 1,000,000 abused children

IN SHORT, THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT is too costly for U.S. employers, workers, and taxpayers. Instead of expensive proposals that would make our broken immigration system worse, Congress should offer real solutions, including commonsense immigration reform that provides a road to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans in our communities.


Josh Stehlik, Policy Attorney, 213-674-2817 or [email protected]

about the Legal Workforce Act

Little girl eating watermelon

The $1 billion that would have to be spent to implement the E-Verify nonsolution would be better spent

♦ providing 341,296,928 free meals to school children

♦ helping build 26,411 units for low-income housing

♦ helping keep 10,000,000 low-income families warm

♦ providing three months of counseling to1,000,000 abused children