A project of the Center for Community Change

E-verify

Groups fight “more of the same” on immigration


Last week, amidst growing frustration from immigrant rights groups and advocates, folks from FIRM groups in New York (NYIC) and Los Angeles (CHIRLA) took to the streets to protest the expansion of Bush-style immigration policies and legislation. While many of our groups (FIRM included) looked to the Obama presidency as a “New Day” for immigration, the reality of recent weeks has worn patience thin. The New York Times ran a story this week, highlighting the growing discontent and impatience.

First, there was the expansion of E-verify – a fatally flawed electronic verification system that threatens not only American workers but immigrants caught up in the endlessly bureaucratic immigration system. Then, there was the expansion of the 287g program – which gives local law enforcement the ability to enforce federal immigration law and is rife with racial profiling and abuse of power.

To be frank, we were promised a “new day” and we feel like we are seeing more of the same.

“We are expanding enforcement, but I think in the right way,” Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, said in an interview.

There is no right way to expand flawed systems. They are just that; flawed. Of course enforcement has to be a part of a Comprehensive Immigration Package, but it should not be expanded outside of an entire overhaul of legislation. As Katy Vargas at ImmPolitic blog wrote:

There is a desperate need for broader oversight of our immigration policies. Escalating enforcement without reforming our immigration system comprehensively only exacerbates the problem and it will not render long-lasting solutions to our immigration chaos.

Last week, America’s Voice launched the “Enough” campaign, calling on the Department of Homeland Security to push for Comprehensive immigration reform, not an expansion of flawed and abusive programs. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, do it NOW. (Sign petition here)

President Obama promised a new day for immigration policy in America, but we have yet to see sufficient change coming from DHS. Rather than overhaul misguided Bush-era immigration enforcement strategies, DHS continues to pursue policies that have done little, if anything, to solve the crisis of illegal immigration.

These policies continue to increase fear in our communities and undermine public safety at a time when the nation is waiting to hear your plans for advancing real, comprehensive immigration reform.

While, on a personal level, I have been very disappointed with the recent moves from the administration (especially the expansion of 287g), I still have faith that the President is ready and willing to bring sensible solutions to the table to help fix our broken immigration system. I firmly believe that we need to keep up the pressure and make our voices heard in order to push for this. Obama (and the United States for that matter) can’t afford to not succeed on this issue.

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E-verify Amendment Blocked in Senate

Over the weekend an attempt to add an E-verify amendment to the Stimulus bill in the Senate was thankfully blocked. The Wall Street Journal had an opinion piece explaining why, outside of immigration issues, E-verify would be harmful to the Stimulus bill.

Weekend negotiations over the Senate stimulus bill followed another dismal jobs report on Friday. So we’re happy to report that negotiators so far have rejected a troublesome amendment that would require any business receiving stimulus funds to enroll in E-Verify, a government program for determining work eligibility. The last thing employers need now is more bureaucratic red tape.

E-Verify, which is currently voluntary, is a Web-based pilot program that allows employers to check the legal status of employees by matching their name and Social Security number against databases maintained by the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. Proponents tout E-Verify as a way to curb the hiring of illegal aliens. But the program is plagued by serious problems that include misidentifying U.S. citizens as not authorized for employment.

…Not to mention the extra costs to businesses who are forced to enroll in the program.

[youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4aLJoWRvpI]

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ACTION: Stimulus Bill Includes E-verify Requirement

The House Appropriations Committee made a serious mistake when it approved an amendment to the stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) that would require all businesses and other public or private “entities” that contract to receive money from the stimulus package to use the flawed federal Basic Pilot/E-Verify program.  This will not only delay use of stimulus funds, but will hurt millions of workers.  It should be stripped from the bill.

The E-Verify provision in the stimulus will:
•    Harm workers who are either falsely denied work or are targeted by employers abusing the E-verify program;
•    Create substantial new burdens for businesses, especially small businesses, at precisely the wrong time;
•    Send the wrong signal to new voters that the Congress prefers to play politics by enacting symbolic and ineffective immigration “enforcement” measures over serious and effective economic stimulus or serious immigration reform.

ACTION NEEDED

1.    Call Speaker Nancy Pelosi (head of Democratic Leadership) at 202-225-0100.

2.    Call Chairman Obey (chair of the House Appropriations committee) at 202-225-3365.

3.    Call Democrats who sit on the appropriations committee if you live in their state.

4.    Tell them:
•    You are extremely disappointed that the E-Verify requirement was included on the Stimulus and you want the provision stripped from the bill.
•    Including E-verify in the stimulus package completely undercuts the purpose of the bill and will only be counterproductive for American business, workers and the economy.
•    Real solutions to our economic problems and immigration reform should be approached seriously and separately.
•    The flawed E-Verify program’s database errors will wrongly workers their jobs.

FAIR (the Federation for American Immigration Reform) just sent out an alert to its very active network to call committee members in support of this provision.  We need to counter their calls.

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