Editorials, Columns, and Op-Eds
E-Verify & Shuler-Tancredo
NEW AMERICAN MEDIA (Immigration Matters Column): Don’t Turn Social Security into an Immigration
REASON: Walls of Paper .............................................................................................................................................................4
WASHINGTON POST (Hockstader Column): Arizona's Immigration Two-Step ...........................................................6
McCOMB (MS) ENTERPRISE JOURNAL (Editorial): Immigration law needs correcting............................................8
NEW YORK TIMES (Editorial): Immigration, Off the Books .............................................................................................9
USA TODAY (Editorial): Our view on illegal immigrants: New immigration laws expose downside of getting tough
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER (Sen. Obama Op-Ed): Obama: Enforce tighter border, employer verifications ...........13
NEW AMERICA MEDIA (Immigration Matters Column): Big Brother, Can I Work Now? .......................................14
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Navarrette Column): Playing it safe on immigration .............................................16
JACKSON (MS) CLARION-LEDGER (Editorial): Immigration: Legislature should reconsider bill..........................20
NEW YORK TIMES (Editorial): How Immigrants Saved Social Security ........................................................................21
DETROIT NEWS (Dalmia Op-Ed): Why penalize Peter to deport Pablo? ......................................................................24
ARIZONA REPUBLIC (Business Groups Op-Ed): Arizona needs a stable, legal workforce .......................................26
FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Hammond Op-Ed): 'No-match' regulation does not correspond to reality .28
DES MOINES REGISTER (Editorial): Immigration bill likely to hurt more than help.................................................30
EL DIARIO/LA PRENSA (Editorial): Looming mess with E-Verify ...............................................................................31
NEW JERSEY JEWISH NEWS (Gall Op-Ed): SAVE Act endangers real immigration reform...................................32
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES (Editorial): Comprehensive plan needed on immigration .......................................................34
MIAMI HERALD (Durst Op-Ed): This is simply `legislated meanness'............................................................................35
CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Tsao Letter): Decision over the SAVE Act..................................................................................37
NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI DAILY JOURNAL (Editorial): Revisit immigration ........................................................38
FORBES (Paparelli Op-Ed): Hurry Up And Let Them In....................................................................................................40
JACKSON (MS) CLARION-LEDGER (Editorial): Immigration: Pandering to fears is shameful...............................42
McCOMB (MS) ENTERPRISE-JOURNAL (Editorial): Senseless bill on immigrant labor...........................................43
WICHITA EAGLE (Editorial): Immigration law should do good......................................................................................45
FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Romero Syndicated Op-Ed): That policy vacuum will be filled .....................46
NEW YORK TIMES (Editorial): The Road to Dystopia......................................................................................................48
NEW AMERICAN MEDIA (Immigration Matters Column): Don’t Turn Social Security into an
New America Media, Commentary, Tyler Moran , Posted: Apr 24, 2008
Editor’s Note: An April 25 deadline for feedback on a proposed rule that would turn the no-match letters that the Social
Security Administration sends out when social security numbers don’t match up into an immigration tool, is fast approaching.
Tyler Moran is Employment Policy Director at the National Immigration Law Center. IMMIGRATION MATTERS
regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates.
On March 26, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that attempts to
turn a Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits program into an immigration enforcement tool. If
implemented, the rule will result in tens of thousands of lawful immigrant workers and U.S. citizens losing
their jobs and the loss of at least $1 billion dollars to businesses each year.
Each year, SSA sends “no-match letters” to workers and employers when the names or Social Security
numbers (SSNs) listed in an employer’s records do not match SSA’s records. The letter’s purpose is to
notify workers and employers of the discrepancy and to alert workers that they are not receiving proper
credit for their earnings, which can affect future retirement or disability benefits administered by SSA.
The Bush Administration wants to use these letters as evidence that employers knowingly hired
undocumented workers. The DHS rule states that if workers named in the letter are unable to correct their
Social Security records within a 90-day period, the employer must fire them or risk being prosecuted for
violating immigration laws.
The problem is that the letters make no statement regarding a worker’s immigration status. SSA databases
that generate no-match letters do not even contain complete or accurate information about workers’
immigration status. And, of the 17.8 million discrepancies in the SSA database that could result in a no-
match letter, 12.7 million (or over 70 percent) pertain to native-born U.S. citizens.
There are many reasons why a worker might receive an SSA no-match letter, including errors in SSA’s
database, clerical errors made by the employer or worker in completing paperwork after being hired, the
fact that the worker might have used a different name convention (such as a hyphenated name or multiple
surnames) when applying for a Social Security card than he or she did when applying for a job, and name
changes due to marriage, divorce, or when a worker became a naturalized citizen. Many employers,
however, will presume that immigrant workers listed on the no-match letter are simply undocumented.
This is likely to result in greater discrimination against immigrants.
If the rule is implemented, tens of thousands of workers will be fired and businesses will lose at least $1
billion dollars per year. In its economic analysis of the proposed rule for DHS, Econometrica, Inc.,
estimated that up to 3.9 million employment authorized and U.S. citizen workers will receive no-match
letters and need to physically go to an SSA office to correct their records. Of those, up to 70,781 workers
will be fired because of their inability to resolve the discrepancy within the specified time period in the
proposed rule. Richard B. Belzer, Ph.D., an economist hired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, predicts
much more dire consequences. In his comments to the DHS, he estimates that the total number of
authorized workers who will be fired because of their inability to resolve the no-match could be as high as
165,000. He also estimates that the aggregate cost to employers will range from $1 billion to $1.6 billion
This is an ill-conceived policy that is bad for workers, employers that play by the rules, and the country’s
The deadline for comments on the proposed rule is April 25, 2008. Make your voice heard about the
impact this rule will have on immigrants, refugees, and many workers of color. We need to generate as
many comments as we can to demonstrate broad opposition to the rule. Several model comments for
workers, organizations and businesses are posted on the Low-Wage Immigrant Worker Coalition website
REASON: Walls of Paper
The "smart" solution to illegal immigration would create 12 million deadbeats
Kerry Howley | April 21, 2008
“There is a smart way to protect our borders, and there is a dumb way to protect our borders,” Hillary
Clinton explained at a February debate in Austin. Obama agreed. The smart way, he added, involves
“deploying effective technology.” The “dumb” way, which both Obama and Clinton voted for, involves
building a hideous steel barrier on land taken from inconveniently situated Texans.
Thus has advanced our immigration debate since the great failure of comprehensive reform in 2007. Walls
are for neanderthals. Civilized people do not try to keep poor, entrepreneurial, much-needed workers out
of the country with bricks and mortar; rather, they achieve this through the use of technology. On this, all
three prospective presidential candidates agree. Each supports an expanded employment verification
program, which would involve a hugely expensive surveillance apparatus and bureaucracy in order to
monitor the employment choices of every American and foreign national. What an appalled ACLU calls “a
permission slip to work” has come to represent the middle ground, though it’s likely to be far more
devastating than any fence.
A bill known as the SAVE Act (Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007)
represents an extreme version of this fantasy, a barrier built of paper and databases rather than mere
concrete. The bill’s co-sponsors, Democrat Heath Shuler and Republican Tom Tancredo, are currently
attempting to force a vote on the issue by collecting signatures for a discharge petition. If they succeed,
they’ll force reluctant legislators into the awkward position of voting on an unworkable bill that seems, at
first glance, a reasonable attempt to enforce the law.
Fewer than one percent of American employers currently use the E-verify system, which checks the
immigration status of American and foreign workers against imperfect federal databases. By all accounts,
the Social Security Administration is struggling under this burden; SAVE would increase the number of
users by around 13000 percent (pdf). Every employer would be forced to send information about every
potential hire, citizen or otherwise, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which
would send the information on to the Social Security Administration, which would send the information
back to USCIS. In cases where either agency finds a discrepancy, USCIS will issue a “temporary non-
confirmation” that the worker can in theory contest within eight days. Given the 4.1 percent error rate of
the SSA database, millions of legal workers may have to fight for the right to accept a job. According to
the agency, 17.8 million of its records contain discrepancies, and most of those pertain to citizens.
Employers are not supposed to act when presented with a “temporary non-confirmation”; they’re
supposed to relay information to employees, allow employees to contest the finding, and wait for another
response from DHS. But the costs of E-verify are significant even when it functions properly, and waiting
around while potential hires wrestle with data snags is even costlier. From the perspective of an employer
with a bunch of interchangeable potential hires, it's most efficient to simply run everyone through the
system and fail to hire people with problematic records. Pre-employment screening is illegal, but a study
commissioned by the DHS last year found that nearly half of participating employers were ignoring at least
some mandated worker protections.
While undocumented workers probably contribute more in federal taxes than they consume in federal
services, no one doubts that they pose some fiscal burden to border communities where they arrive. Still,
you’d have to take an improbably extreme view of these costs to deem the SAVE Act fiscally rational.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (pdf), the act would decrease federal revenues by $17.3
billion between 2009 and 2018 as formerly tax-paying workers go underground. The costs of expanding E-
verify and a bunch of other goodies stuffed into SAVE (thousands more border agents, a program to
recruit former members of the armed forces to join the border patrol, more SUVs and unmanned aerial
vehicles, hundreds of full time immigration investigators, expanded immigration detention centers) come
to $23.4 billion in discretionary spending during the same period. And that doesn’t touch the cost to
individual employers, who are being slapped with a huge regulatory burden in the midst of impending
No presidential candidate has come out in favor of Schuler’s bill, most likely because the bill includes no
avenue for undocumented workers who wish to become legal. Herein lies the ambitious stupidity of
SAVE: If the bill works as intended, it will instantly turn the population of 12 million undocumented
workers with no way of becoming legal into 12 million unemployed undocumented workers with no way of
becoming legal. For a political constituency constantly worried about “anarchy,” this does not appear to be
an ideal situation.
The SAVE Act may or may not come to a vote this session, but employment verification will almost
certainly be a part of future compromise legislation on immigration reform. That's worrying. Walls offend
us aesthetically and symbolically; they’re clumsy and primitive and cruel. But they’re also easy to tear down;
far easier than a slowly metastasizing system of total employment surveillance, of growing databases and
In the end, E-verify will not “turn off the tap,” “dry up the pool of jobs,” or “turn off the magnet.” It will
simply encourage workers underground, where they will be more vulnerable to abuse and less likely to pay
taxes. But SAVE’s supporters may be doing more than they know to slow the flow of willing workers into
the United States. Rises and falls in the flow of undocumented immigrants do not track enforcement
efforts; they track the state of the U.S. economy. If legislators manage to quicken the onset of recession by
reducing the flexibility of American employers, draining billions in tax revenue, and preventing Americans
from going to work, they'll get exactly what they've been wishing for.
Kerry Howley is a senior editor of reason
WASHINGTON POST (Hockstader Column): Arizona's Immigration Two-Step
By Lee Hockstader
Monday, April 21, 2008; A15
PHOENIX -- Traumatized by a tidal wave of illegal immigrants, Arizona last year enacted the nation's
most pitiless law to punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Now state lawmakers, having
proved that they mean business -- even if it means killing off businesses -- are reconnecting with reality:
They want to import Mexican workers.
No state has been as unhinged by illegal immigration as Arizona, where by some estimates undocumented
employees comprise up to 12 percent of the state's workforce of 3 million, more than twice the national
average. They have also fueled Arizona's supercharged economy, which has grown faster -- and with less
unemployment -- than almost anywhere else in the country.
Recently I visited the north Phoenix neighborhood of Palomino, which was virtually all white and Anglo
25 years ago. Today it is overwhelmingly Latino, teeming with taco joints and home to the city's only day-
"You drive around, you can't even read the store signs or the billboards," said James Cooney, a recently
laid-off heavy equipment operator whom I found picketing outside the day-labor center with a group of
like-minded protesters, some of them overtly racist. "It's an invasion."
That sentiment, plus Congress's failure to fix the nation's broken-down immigration system, contributed to
a sort of legislative temper tantrum in Phoenix last summer. With little opposition, state lawmakers passed
a bill to penalize firms that knowingly hire undocumented workers by suspending their business licenses
for up to 10 days; on a second offense, the license is revoked.
The resulting outcry from companies warning of severe labor shortages prompted lawmakers to water
down the bill somewhat, by, for instance, applying it only to workers hired after Jan. 1 of this year. But
they kept some provisions businesses hated, including one allowing prosecutors to act on anonymous tips
about undocumented workers.
The law had the desired effect. Immigrant neighborhoods in Phoenix started emptying out. Some
employers called in suspect workers and fired those who admitted lacking proper documents. In Maricopa
County, which includes Phoenix, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has cultivated an image as a Bull Connor for the
nativist crowd, took the law as a green light to round up and harass Hispanics.
Just as satisfying to many of the law's advocates, Arizona companies rushed to register for E-Verify, the
federal government's Internet-based system for checking the employment eligibility of newly hired
workers. Now some 25,000 are signed up, more than in every other state combined. Lawmakers in
Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere began drafting legislation modeled on the Arizona law.
But despite a jobless rate that is creeping higher, it has dawned on lawmakers that an enforcement-only
strategy may inflict a lethal blow to state employers in agriculture, hospitality, construction and other
industries, all of which have depended on a steady supply of low-skilled immigrant workers. And while the
economic slowdown has somewhat eased the demand for workers, especially in construction, chances are
slim that Arizona's economy will come roaring back without an adequate labor supply.
So now, with far less fanfare, the legislature is pushing through a measure calling for an Arizona-specific
temporary guest-worker pilot program. The bill, which has bipartisan backing, would relieve labor
shortages in certain industries by allowing qualifying companies to recruit workers in Mexico for a two-
year term of employment. That would need congressional or federal approval, which, given recent history,
may be problematic, to say the least.
In other words, having done its utmost to have undocumented Hispanics fired and driven from the state,
Arizona has now decided it badly needs low-skilled labor after all. In both instances -- by getting tough
with employers and by providing for a future supply of legal guest workers -- the state is trying to achieve
what Congress could not.
That's the dilemma of the maddening national debate over immigration, which is torn between seemingly
irreconcilable political forces: an anti-immigration camp that will brook no talk of amnesty to allow
existing employees to stay; and employers whose growth, profits and, in some cases, existence depend on a
reliable supply of cheap, low-skilled workers of the sort that have become scarce among native-born
While in Arizona, I spent time with state Rep. Russell K. Pearce, chief sponsor of the employer-sanctions
bill. For him, the impulse to turn back the tide of illegal immigrants and return to a simpler era is visceral.
"My son married a Hispanic woman . . . my neighbors are the Martinezes, and we get along well," said
Pearce, whose office at the Capitol features portraits of John Wayne. "But we're an English-speaking
nation, and we should hold on to our culture."
I also talked to Jason LeVecke, president of a company that owns 68 fast-food restaurants and
convenience stores around Arizona, whose fury at the employer-sanctions law led him to suspend new
projects in the state. "Arizona at the end of the day is a desert," he said. "If we become a more risky or a
more costly place of doing business than the other 49 states, which today we are, we will become a
declining economy in perpetuity."
Until Congress resolves that debate, there will be plenty more such voices shouting at each other in the
The writer is a member of the editorial page staff. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
McCOMB (MS) ENTERPRISE JOURNAL (Editorial): Immigration law needs correcting
April 21, 2008
Gov. Haley Barbour knew the immigration reform bill the Mississippi Legislature passed earlier this year
was a bad bill. It was rushed through both chambers, spurred more by xenophobia, prejudice against
Hispanics and job worries than anything else.
The Republican governor should have vetoed the bill and sent it back to the Legislature for more work.
Instead, he caved and signed it into law.
As it presently stands, larger companies will be required, starting in July, to check the eligibility status of
potential new hires by running their names through an electronic verification system being developed by
the federal government. Problem is, though, eVerify is still in its pilot stages, and it has kinks. Initial testing
has shown it to not be completely accurate.
Yet, employers would be taking a big chance to not comply with an erroneous report. The bill provides
serious financial penalties for companies that hire illegals, including the loss of any public business.
For workers wrongly identified as "illegal," they could be imprisoned or fined and eventually deported.
Given those potential consequences, it certainly would seem to be prudent to make sure eVerify works
before mandating it. Lawmakers, though, threw prudence to the wind in an effort to placate an anti-
immigrant fervor that many of them stirred up during last year's elections.
Certainly, those who knowingly hire illegal workers should suffer the consequences. In fact, they should be
the prime target for a crackdown, since the flood of illegal aliens would dry up if employers stopped
offering them jobs.
Before adding a new layer of regulation for employers, however, the state should be sure that the layer
works as advertised. That's not the case yet with eVerify. It is a big mistake to mandate it prematurely.
- Enterprise-Journal, McComb
NEW YORK TIMES (Editorial): Immigration, Off the Books
April 17, 2008
Every American who has a job or wants one should be following the debates in Congress over bills to
crack down on illegal hiring. Employment verification is one of the few ideas still lurching around the
Capitol after last year’s Senate shootout mowed down a forest of immigration reforms. It’s boring and
complicated — it’s about databases — but unlike other immigration fixes, it affects every worker and
employer in America, native-born or not.
Two House bills — the SAVE Act, sponsored by Heath Shuler, and the New Employee Verification Act,
sponsored by Sam Johnson — are designed to squeeze illegal immigrants out of the country by making it
impossible for them to find work.
Immigration reform is always tricky, but employment verification is where the details get demonic.
It starts with a flawed database that everyone would have to rely on to get work or change jobs. Think of
the “no-fly” list, the database of murky origins with mysterious flaws that you, the passenger, must fix if
you are on it and want to fly. These immigration bills seek to take small, badly flawed “no-work” lists and
explode them rapidly to a national scale. With an error rate of about 4 percent, millions of citizens could
be flagged as ineligible to work, too.
That’s only part of the price. The Congressional Budget Office says the SAVE Act would cost $40 billion
over 10 years, adding up lost tax revenue and spending on things like thousands of immigration judges. It
is likely to overwhelm the Social Security Administration, which already is swamped with disability benefits
and retiring baby boomers. It won’t do much for small businesses that would have to pay to comply.
The problem is not with employment verification itself. Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to work,
and any system that is rational and lawful needs to be backed up with a hiring database. The trouble with
these bills is that they don’t fix the database errors first, and they are strict enforcement-only measures,
uncoupled from any path to legalization for undocumented workers.
Imagine that we end up with an airtight workplace verification system built on a perfect database — but
without a path to legalization. In that world, an honest company that learns it has undocumented workers
has the unhappy choice of firing them or taking them off the books. How many would choose option B?
Sleazy employers who already hire under the table would be encouraged, since the millions of workers
stranded in the shadows would have nowhere else to go. (They will not deport themselves en masse, no
matter what the Minutemen say.) American workers would then be more vulnerable to competition from
illegal labor, not less.
Some employers, meanwhile, would readily abuse the system, prescreening job applicants, avoiding or
discriminating against non-natives, not letting workers know their rights, firing them at will.
Remind us, again, why we wanted this so badly?
Oh, to protect American workers.
Doing that means, at the very least, fixing the employment database before beginning a huge, untested
worker-verification experiment and imposing it only as part of a broader reform that allows the eight
million undocumented workers to become legal. Otherwise, we would be giving countless employers and
workers the incentive to go off the books, which would be exactly where we started, billions of dollars and
countless lost jobs ago.
USA TODAY (Editorial): Our view on illegal immigrants: New immigration laws expose
downside of getting tough
Crackdowns in states, communities wound families and businesses.
When Congress gave up trying to pass a balanced immigration law last year, it opened the door for states,
counties and towns to write their own immigration laws. The result has been a disquieting national
experiment in handling illegal immigration almost solely with arrest and deportation.
Several states have enacted laws that show no mercy, even for immigrants with steady jobs, deep
community roots, a history of paying taxes and children who are citizens. They have just one goal: Get
As a matter of ice-cold reasoning, those states make a case that would pass any logician's test: The law
must have meaning, so if the federal government won't act against wanton law-breaking, then the states
must. Oklahoma, which has one of the toughest new laws, now bars illegal immigrants from receiving state
services, requires employers to verify that new workers are legal, gives people a way to sue companies that
hire illegal immigrants, and makes it a felony to transport, harbor or conceal an illegal immigrant. It was
meant to be harsh, and it is.
It's also undeniably effective. Oklahoma Hispanic groups estimate that as many as 25,000 left the state
after the law was approved last year. School attendance dropped, workers disappeared, church attendance
shrank and Latino businesses lost customers.
What's missing is simple humanity — a recognition that the vast majority of those affected lack any
malicious intent. They came not to rob banks but to improve their lives though hard work. Yet families are
uprooted, and parents are separated from their kids.
Legal residents and citizens are hurt, too. When spouses, parents or children are illegal, a relative can be
placed at risk for "harboring" them at home or "transporting" them to church. There are persistent reports
that police in some places target Hispanic drivers for roadside stops and document checks. Some citizens
have taken to carrying passports or birth certificates to avoid being jailed.
By intent, the laws have also hit businesses, which have scrambled to replace lost workers. Employers say
they're being asked to become immigration police with imperfect tools. A study in Oklahoma predicted
that the law could cost the state's economy more than $1 billion a year, and a firm that specializes in
finding new locations for businesses said some companies have crossed Oklahoma off their lists. The state
Chamber of Commerce and other business groups filed suit to block the law.
If there's virtue in all this, it is to highlight the hypocrisy that has long been at the heart of ineffectual
federal immigration law: The nation doesn't want illegal immigrants, but it does want the cheap labor they
provide. So it passes laws then doesn't pay to enforce them.
Laws such as Oklahoma's may now expose the downside of being harsh, just as federal law has exposed
the downside of being lax.
There's a better remedy, of course, but Congress gave up on it last year. President Bush's immigration bill
would have toughened workplace enforcement with a strong verification system and effective ID
requirements. It would also have acknowledged reality by fostering a temporary worker program and
providing a rigorous path to citizenship for the most qualified of the estimated 12 million illegal
immigrants already here. That's still a worthwhile proposal.
Laws such as Oklahoma's are satisfying for those who seethe over illegal immigration. But they worsen a
polarized, anti-immigrant atmosphere that ill-serves the nation.
Posted at 12:22 AM/ET, April 16, 2008
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER (Sen. Obama Op-Ed): Obama: Enforce tighter border, employer
Sen. Barack Obama
Posted on Mon, Apr. 14, 2008
One of my fundamental beliefs is that for too long we have had a politics of division and distraction in
Washington that's stopped us from coming together to bring about real change. There are few better
examples of how broken our politics has become than the immigration debate. Just last summer, we saw
comprehensive reform fail in part because of bitter partisanship.
While I understand the passions -- and legitimate differences -- on both sides of this difficult issue, we
must restore civility and reason to the conversation. The longer we go without comprehensive reform, the
more pronounced this problem will become.
We must find common ground and take action on the two central issues that lie at the heart of this debate
-- and we cannot effectively address one without addressing the other at the same time.
First, we must reinforce our borders to deter the more than 2,000 immigrants who cross them illegally
each day. Most of these aspiring laborers risk death in the desert to come here illegally, and they are
diverting our attention from those trying to enter to do us harm.
Strengthening the border requires equipping Customs and Border Protection agents with better technology
and real-time intelligence, improving infrastructure, and making smart choices about where patrols should
We also have to ensure that employers are hiring only legal workers. That's why I've worked with
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Max Baucus to make it significantly more difficult --
if not impossible -- for employers to hire workers who are here illegally, including the more than 40
percent who came legally and overstayed their visa.
This will require a mandatory electronic system that enables employers to verify the legal status of their
employees within days of hiring them.
Second, we must require the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are already here, including more
than 300,000 in North Carolina, to step out of the shadows and onto a path that includes the ability to
earn citizenship by demonstrating a sound character, a commitment to America, and a strong work ethic.
We have to understand that many immigrants want to get right with the law. They work in their
communities, pay taxes, and have become an integral part of our society.
While it's unrealistic to deport them, illegal entry cannot go unpunished. That's why we must require them
to pay a fine, learn English, and get to the back of the line for citizenship behind those who came here
We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and we must reconcile those traditions. It's time to
move beyond our broken politics and achieve real progress on immigration reform, not just for the sake of
passing a bill, and not as a favor to immigrants, but so that we can finally address the concerns of the
American people, and make real the hopes of all those who want nothing more than a chance at the
NEW AMERICA MEDIA (Immigration Matters Column): Big Brother, Can I Work Now?
Americans Might Need Government Permission to Work
New America Media, Commentary, Michele Waslin, Posted: Apr 10, 2008
Editor’s Note: E-Verify is being touted as an electronic program that will easily identify who is allowed to work in the
United States. Instead, American citizens may find themselves caught in a maze of database errors that could make them
ineligible to work. Michele Waslin is senior research analyst with the Immigration Policy Center. Immigration Matters
regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Washington’s latest magic bullet for dealing with the nation’s broken
immigration system is to require all workers – including U.S. citizens – to ask the government for
permission to work. While proponents of the Shuler-Tancredo "SAVE Act" (HR 4088) and the Johnson
"New Employee Verification Act of 2008" (HR 5515) talk tough about cracking down on illegal
immigrants, the truth is that their bills’ nationwide mandatory electronic employment verification system
would require all American workers – foreign- and native-born alike – to get the government’s stamp of
approval in order to work.
The proposed bills build upon the E-Verify program, a small pilot program that taps Social Security
Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases to make determinations
about employment authorization. If the government database isn’t accurate, Americans will be denied jobs
and paychecks, at least temporarily, while they attempt to resolve the problem with the government
agencies. And we all know how easy it is to resolve problems with government agencies.
SSA admits to having 17.8 million discrepancies in its primary database, and foreign-born lawful workers
are 30 times more likely than native-born citizens to be incorrectly identified as not authorized to work.
Nearly 10 percent of naturalized citizens are initially incorrectly flagged as unauthorized, compared to 0.1
percent of native-born citizens. With its 4 percent error rate, one in 25 new hires could be flagged as
ineligible to work. Illegal immigrants with “good” forged or borrowed documents will not be among them,
but victims of typos and women who didn’t register their name change with SSA after they got married
These proposals would also put a tremendous burden on DHS and SSA, forcing them to administer a
huge new nationwide mandatory program. E-Verify currently enrolls fewer than 60,000 – less than 1
percent – of the nation’s employers. With approximately 7 million employers in the United States, the bills
would mean a 13,000 percent increase in users in fewer than five years. Last year E-Verify handled 3.6
million queries from employers seeking verification for new hires. That pales in comparison to the 50 to 60
million annual new hires that E-Verify would have to handle with a mandatory system in place.
Perhaps more alarming, SSA would be forced to take on huge new responsibilities in addition to
administering retirement, disability, and other benefits to deserving Americans. With more than three
quarters of a million disability claims currently awaiting a decision, an average waiting time of 500 days, 78
million baby boomers soon to be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, and staffing at its lowest
point since the 1970s, the last thing SSA needs is another mandate. But when a worker gets erroneously
flagged as ineligible, she will have to take time off of work, go to SSA and stand in line with all of the
retirees, and attempt to resolve the error with an overworked, understaffed agency. And we thought 500
days was a long time to wait.
Is looking tough on immigrants during an election year really worth all the trouble an expansion of E-
Verify would cause – especially when the economy is tanking and Americans are already worried about
keeping their jobs? E-Verify is not going to stop unscrupulous employers from hiring undocumented
workers under the table, but it will hurt U.S. workers caught up in database errors and people trying to get
their benefits check from an overwhelmed agency. It’s time to tell Congress to “just say no” to election
year pandering and instead engage in realistic policy-making.
NEW AMERICA MEDIA (Lovato Column): Electronic Dragnet for Undocumented Immigrants
New America Media, News Report, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Apr 08, 2008
Editor’s Note: Electronic programs to verify employment eligibility are meant to detect those working in the United States
illegally. But an unlikely coalition of unions, business organizations and conservatives fear that error-filled databases might
end up impacting citizens as well. NAM contributor Roberto Lovato is a writer based in New York.
Two hours after starting his new job at a food processing plant in 2006, Fernando Tinoco got fired. “I
went to work, felt really good to have a new job and started going to it,” says Tinoco, a 53-year-old
naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Chicago. “And then they called me into the office and told me that my
Social Security number was fake,” he adds, “And then they fired me.” Apparently, Tyson Foods Inc.,
Tinoco’s former employer, was one of the more than 52,000 companies voluntarily participating in “E-
Verify”, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program designed to identify undocumented workers
by electronically verifying their employment eligibility. After the Kafkaesque experience of being hired,
fired and trying to maneuver through the famously overstretched bureaucracy of the Social Security
Administration to re-confirm status, Citizen Tinoco has become an outspoken critic of U.S. immigration
laws' impact on citizens. “I think that citizens need to be as careful of these new immigration laws,” says
Tinoco, who now works at a school, adding, “they can ruin our lives too.” Tinoco found his concerns
echoed by Jim Harper of the conservative Cato Institute, who recently wrote that “If E-Verify goes
national, get used to hearing that Orwellian term: ‘non-confirmation.’”
That is why E-Verify is opposed by an unlikely alliance that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
major unions, Republican legislators and others. But it is only one of a growing number of legislative and
administrative immigration control initiatives that Tinoco and many critics believe will negatively impact
not just non-citizens, but citizens as well. This week, for example, Congress is considering the Secure
America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which includes provisions that mandate a
national verification system like that of the more voluntary state programs like E-Verify. Also causing
intense fear is last week’s announcement by the Bush administration of revisions to its “No Match letter”
plan, which requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to send out 140,000 letters demanding that
employers fire workers whose Social Security numbers did not match those in their records. Advocates are
concerned that, like the E-Verify program and SAVE Act, the new No Match regulations will affect other
U.S. citizens and authorized workers thanks to the same kind of faulty record keeping that led to Tinoco’s
“By viewing these initiatives through the narrow lens of ‘immigration policy’ sold to us by politicians many
fail to see that many of these programs will have direct impacts on many citizens,” says Michele Waslin,
senior research analyst with the Immigration Policy Center. To support their claims, Waslin and other
critics point to several reports like one by the SSA’s Office of Inspector General that found that there are
17.8 million discrepancies in the SSA’s records relating to lawful American workers. The report also found
that 70 percent or 12.7 million of those inconsistencies belong to native-born (as opposed to naturalized)
Some advocates like Harper of the Cato Institute are fighting the proposals because they believe that there
are no checks against government error or abuse against citizens in the programs ostensibly targeting those
here illegally. “Once built,” wrote Harper, “this government monitoring system would soon be extended
to housing, financial services, and other essentials to try to get at illegal immigrants. It would also be
converted to policy goals well beyond immigration control.” Waslin agrees. “These programs will do
nothing to deal with undocumented immigrants because people will simply go further underground,” says
Waslin. “But they will eventually lead to a situation that will force every single person to ask the
government for permission to work. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Is it really worth it?’”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation, answers Waslin’s question with a
resounding ‘no’, a ‘no’ accompanied by lawsuits, letter-writing and lobbying.
For their part, DHS representatives say that concerns about the effects on citizens are misplaced. The
number of citizens mistakenly impacted by programs like No Match and E-Verify programs, says DHS
spokesperson Amy Kudwa, “are a small portion of the population. Ninety-two percent of all E-verify
queries are returned without incident in less than eight seconds and only 1 percent of them are contested.
These are important tools in fighting illegal immigration.”
But advocates point out that, despite being run on trial basis, E-Verify and other programs have already
demonstrated disconcerting flaws that are rooted in the unreliability of the technology and the databases
like that of SSA.
In the face of so many legislative proposals and administrative initiatives, Tinoco says his obligation to
speak only grows because of his concern for his fellow immigrants - and fellow citizens. “I still don’t
understand: how can this happen here? It’s like a movie, a very bad movie.” Asked what message he has
for his fellow citizens, Tinoco answers, “This can happen to you too.”
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (Navarrette Column): Playing it safe on immigration
Ruben Navarrette, Jr.
April 6, 2008
Americans know our immigration policy is broken, and – if they're paying attention – they should have
figured out that Congress can't fix it.
For one thing, it lunges for simple solutions that don't work. Like building fences or beefing up the Border
A congressional mandate to build nearly 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border was met by
resistance, lawsuits and complaints by landowners. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff,
claiming that criminal activity doesn't wait for lawsuits or debates, recently issued waivers to circumvent
environmental reviews in hopes of finishing the fence this year. Note the irony: Chertoff wanted to show
migrants that it's important to follow the rules, even if he had to skirt rules in the process.
Meanwhile, the Border Patrol is a mess. There are now more than 15,000 Border Patrol agents, and
President Bush has proposed adding a few thousand more. There aren't enough supervisors to train new
recruits. To speed things, according to the Border Patrol union, the agency cut the training from 88 days to
55, raised the age limit from 37 to 40, ditched the requirement of a high school diploma or GED, lowered
passing scores on tests from 85 percent to 70 percent, and stopped using the FBI to run background
You might think the last thing that the Border Patrol wants is a mandate to hire more agents. You'd be
But that didn't stop Reps. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Brian Bilbray, R-Carlsbad, from recently proposing a
well-intentioned but woefully tone-deaf bill called the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement
Act. The SAVE Act proposes hiring an additional 8,000 Border Patrol agents.
When I've been to the border to interview Border Patrol agents and supervisors, I've been told repeatedly
that they don't need more agents, but they'd sure appreciate it if Congress gave them the tools they need.
At the top of the list: detection equipment to help agents find what could be hundreds of tunnels along the
Authorities say that since 2000, they have found more than 70 tunnels between Mexico and the United
States. The most recent passageway – still unfinished – was discovered a few days ago near San Diego.
These tunnels were built by smugglers who – like Michael Chertoff – came up with a crafty way to
overcome an impediment. We build a fence, or put more agents on the border, the bad guys build a tunnel.
Border Patrol agents also tell me that the best way to curb illegal immigration is to crack down on
employers with fines, jail time, confiscation of property and other sanctions. Even suggesting those
remedies is enough to send tough-talking members of Congress scurrying under their desks since those
same employers help keep them in office with campaign contributions. And so lawmakers typically steer
clear of punishing employers.
The SAVE Act continues that sad tradition. It lacks employer sanctions and something else that is essential
to reform – a tamper-proof ID card to help employers determine who is eligible to work. Instead, it sticks
its toe in the water by requiring employers to use a government-run electronic verification system, which, it
turns out, has a significant error rate. And for businesses that refuse to go along? There is no punishment
for them, either.
The bill should have been named the “SAFE Act,” since it doesn't take any risks or offer anything bold or
When I asked Bilbray why there weren't any employer sanctions in the bill, the congressman suggested that
such penalties are overrated. In fact, he said, the better mechanism for punishing employers who hire
illegal immigrants – and then claim a tax deduction – is the Internal Revenue Service. That's ridiculous.
Bilbray also insists that, by requiring employers to verify the status of workers, his bill “focuses on the part
(of reform) that Washington has sidestepped again and again because their buddies are the ones who are
hiring illegals.” But the bill doesn't even bother to empower immigration agents and instead pawns off
their duties on the IRS. Then Bilbray has the chutzpah to advertise the legislation as tough on employers.
Don't look now, congressman. But, by playing it safe, it appears you've lost focus.
JACKSON (MS) CLARION-LEDGER (Editorial): Immigration: Legislature should reconsider
April 4, 2008
An old saying goes: "Legislate in haste, repent at leisure." And Mississippi lawmakers are beginning to have
second thoughts about an immigration bill they hastily approved this session and Gov. Haley Barbour
imprudently signed into law.
Lawmakers composed of a two-thirds majority of both chambers would be required to consider changing
Senate Bill 2988 that mandates employers use the federal pilot program eVerify to make sure they are
hiring people who are in the U.S. legally.
But, unless the governor and lawmakers want to be responsible for a law that hurts the state's economy, is
based on an unreliable, untested and unverifiable system and cannot be fairly administered or enforced,
then they should vote to reconsider it.
"The basic concept, the governor is in favor of, but he didn't think it went far enough to protect
businesses and individuals," said state Rep. Ted Mayhall, R-Southaven, one of 11 House members asking
that the rules be suspended so legislators can consider changing SB 2988 that Barbour signed.
SB 2988 provides penalties for any employer who hires an illegal immigrant, with fines and imprisonment
for the immigrant, and loss of contracts and revenue for the employer. It uses a pilot federal identification
system that may be unreliable.
As a regulatory hurdle, it offers a barrier to employers with added costs in hiring and verification
Barbour knew it was a dog when he signed it. "Any employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien should
be held accountable," he said then, but added: "I have serious concerns ... the bill could have unintended
negative consequences. I urge the Legislature to make the necessary technical changes to ensure this bill
will have the intended effect."
He should have vetoed it. It's anti-business, a rather odd bill for a pro-business conservative to support.
But Barbour and few in the Legislature had the internal fortitude to stand up to pressure to do
"something" about illegal immigration, even if that "something" hurt legitimate businesses, was a bad law,
and will hurt the state's economy.
Now, they're stuck with it unless the rules are suspended. They should reconsider it.
JEWISH DAILY FORWARD (Aronoff Op-Ed): Flawed Act Will Not Solve Our Immigration
By Gideon Aronoff
Thu. Apr 03, 2008
The House of Representatives is poised to ram through in the coming weeks a disastrous piece of
legislation dubbed the “Save Act” that will imperil the ability of millions of Americans to work in this
country and will waste countless more resources and money on a failed policy. As the disastrous failure of
Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation recedes further into the background, it is
becoming clearer that in its absence we have little hope of developing an immigration system that is
holistic, compassionate and effective.
Immigration activists were understandably dismayed when late last year Rep. Heath Shuler, a North
Carolina Democrat, and Republican Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Brian Bilbray of California
introduced the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, or Save Act for short. But we
became truly alarmed when the bill’s supporters announced March 11 that they would use a “discharge
petition” to bring the bill directly to the House floor for a vote — without allowing any congressional
committee to consider the merits or drawbacks of the bill.
Rushing to advance such a seriously flawed measure that will negatively impact millions of workers in the
United States without any kind of debate or process to amend the bill is as foolish as it is dangerous.
Rather than systematically addressing the problems in our broken immigration system, the Save Act
expands the existing “Basic Pilot” employment verification system, now known as “E-Verify,” to cover all
employers and all workers in just four short years, without resolving the well-documented problems of the
current system. The Social Security Administration estimates that 17.8 million of its records contain
discrepancies, of which 71% pertain to American citizens. That means that unless the errors in the E-
Verify database are addressed, the Save Act would place in jeopardy the jobs of an estimated 12.7 million
American workers whose information appears incorrectly in the database.
The Save Act would also throw billions of taxpayer dollars at outdated policies that have failed over the
past 20 years and are doomed to failure without reform of the legal immigration system. Over the past two
decades, the United States has been ramping up border and interior enforcement exponentially, yet the
number of undocumented immigrants in this country continues to grow. The Save Act is not a silver bullet
for illegal immigration; it’s merely window dressing.
Among many other troubling provisions in the Save Act, the bill would undermine security in our
communities by imposing nationwide requirements on local police officers to act as immigration agents.
This is an unwise policy that has been shown to foster distrust between law enforcement and the
communities they protect. Our police officers should be solving crimes and catching criminals, not
spending their time chasing down busboys and nannies who have overstayed their visa.
The bill also calls for pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into the construction of 8,000 more detention
spaces for immigrants. Last year, American taxpayers paid more than $1.2 billion to detain more than
260,000 individuals, including hundreds of families. About half of all immigrants held in detention centers
have no criminal record. The detention of so many people who pose no threat to us is a costly, inhumane
Contrary to the message the Save Act’s moniker conveys, this bill will not save America. Instead, it will
pave the way for America to continue down a perilous path in which the exploitation of human beings
continues to escalate, hate crimes and hate rhetoric against immigrants continue to intensify, and our
families and communities continue to suffer in the face of fear and distrust.
As Jews, we most value those things about our country that come from our own tradition of welcoming
the stranger and treating those immigrants among us with honor and respect. What we see happening
around us on a daily basis gives us pause.
As Jews and Americans, we must ask ourselves what kind of country we are and what kind of country we
want to become. Do we want to be a country that locks up millions of immigrants and children who have
committed no crime? Do we want to be the kind of country where immigration agents break down the
doors of people’s homes in the middle of the night waving guns in their faces? Are we the kind of country
that turns a blind eye to the ruthless exploitation of workers at the hands of unscrupulous employers?
We believe that this is not the kind of country America is or wants to become. We believe that America is
the kind of country that values opportunity and aspiration, fairness and community, justice and the rule of
law. We also believe that America is the kind of country that respects the human dignity of all people,
regardless of immigration status.
And so we call on Congress to safeguard — to truly save — these faith-based values that make our
country so great. By doing so, we take a stand against attempts to ensnare us in an identity that we neither
asked for nor desire.
Gideon Aronoff is president & CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
NEW YORK TIMES (Editorial): How Immigrants Saved Social Security
April 2, 2008
Immigration is good for the financial health of Social Security because more workers mean more tax
revenue. Illegal immigration, it turns out, is even better than legal immigration. In the fine print of the
2008 annual report on Social Security, released last week, the program’s trustees noted that growing
numbers of “other than legal” workers are expected to bolster the program over the coming decades.
One reason is that many undocumented workers pay taxes during their work lives but don’t collect
benefits later. Another is that undocumented workers are entering the United States at ever younger ages
and are expected to have more children while they’re here than if they arrived at later ages. The result is a
substantial increase in the number of working-age people paying taxes, but a relatively smaller increase in
the number of retirees who receive benefits — a double boon to Social Security’s bottom line.
We’re not talking chump change. According to the report, the taxes paid by other-than-legal immigrants
will close 15 percent of the system’s projected long-term deficit. That’s equivalent to raising the payroll tax
by 0.3 percentage points, starting today.
That is not to suggest that illegal immigration is a legitimate fix to Social Security’s problems. It is another
reminder, however, of the nation’s complex relationship with undocumented workers. Would the people
who want to deport all undocumented workers be willing to make up the difference and pay the taxes that
the undocumented are currently paying?
It is also a reminder of Social Security’s dynamism. As society and the economy evolve, so does the
system, responding not only to changes in immigration and fertility, but also in wage growth and other
variables. As such, it is adaptable to the 21st century, if only the political will can be found to champion
the necessary changes. Those include modest tax increases and moderate benefit cuts that could be phased
in over decades — provided the country gets started soon.
DETROIT NEWS (Dalmia Op-Ed): Why penalize Peter to deport Pablo?
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Reasonable people can disagree about the best solution to illegal immigration. But everyone can agree that,
whatever the solution, it should not compromise the right of ordinary Americans to work. Yet that's
precisely what a bill sponsored by U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., would
The bill, called the SAVE Act (Secure America through Employment Verification), is opposed by House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- a California Democrat. To overcome her opposition, the bill's sponsors have
gotten 181 fellow legislators, including five Michigan Republicans, to sign a discharge petition.
Should they obtain another 44 signatures when they return from recess this week, they will be able to over-
rule Pelosi and bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. If the House approves the bill, a virtual
certainty if it comes for a full vote, it will give a tremendous boost to an identical bill in the Senate -- and
become virtually unstoppable, since neither party wants to appear soft on immigration in an election year.
That would be a terrible outcome for American workers.
The bill's most controversial aspect is that it would make the E-verify program mandatory. Currently,
employers can choose to enroll in this program and verify the work eligibility of new hires against the
federal Social Security database. About 43,000 employers nationwide -- or less than 1 percent -- have
But if this bill becomes law, within four years every employer nationwide would be required to verify the
work credentials of its entire work force, including 160 million existing workers plus 60 million new hires.
Since the program prior to the huge proposed expansion has a 5 percent error rate, this would mean that
more than 12 million legal workers could potentially be thrown out of work by no fault of their own. Nor
will improved technology eliminate these errors, as its authors claim, because most of them are the result
of data entry mistakes.
What's more, workers -- not their employers -- would have to clear things with Uncle Sam when their
credentials are thrown into question. To do so, they'll have to deal with the same agencies that issued visas
to 9/11 terrorists after they flew planes into buildings. But even if one assumes that the program has 100
percent success in catching every one of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, that would still
translate into one American worker being hurt for every illegal snagged. That is a lousy deal.
But the fundamental problem with the program is that it would require workers to prove that they are
eligible to work rather the government to prove they are not. We're all guilty until proven innocent.
Using employers to crackdown on illegals may seem like a good idea. But there is no program that can
surgically incise illegals from the workplace while leaving everyone else unscathed. The cleanest way to
slash the population of such workers is by opening more avenues for them to legally work here through a
guest worker program.
This is the approach that was close to becoming law as part of the comprehensive immigration reform
effort last summer before it got ambushed by Rush Limbaugh and his talk show comrades. If the House
leadership can't push sensible reforms now -- it at least ought to stop such pernicious ones as the SAVE
Act. And President Bush can help by threatening to veto this train wreck.
Shikha Dalmia of Metro Detroit is a senior analyst at the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, a free market think
tank. Mail letters to The Detroit News, Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226, fax them to (313) 222-
6417 or e-mail them to email@example.com.
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ARIZONA REPUBLIC (Business Groups Op-Ed): Arizona needs a stable, legal workforce
Apr. 1, 2008 12:00 AM
We come from all walks of life, united by our concern that Washington's failure to act on immigration has
left Arizona in an impossible predicament.
If we as a state are going to become a laboratory for state-based immigration policy, we believe the
experimentation should be positive as well as negative: not just cracking down on illegal immigrants but
ensuring that the state has the legal workforce it needs to prosper and grow.
What part of "legal" don't you understand?
Arizona needs a stable, reliable, legal supply of workers, foreign- as well as native-born. If the feds can't
deliver that legal workforce, the state must take matters into its own hands. It must push for a homegrown
solution, no matter how partial or imperfect. And we signatories stand united in our support for the
legislation pending in the state House of Representatives that would create an Arizona temporary-worker
Far too many Arizonans think we face a choice: immigration or the rule of law. We signatories understand
- we share - Arizonans' determination to regain control of the border. But that need not - cannot - mean
that we as a state must choke our economy. We can remain open for business and restore the rule of law,
too. We can and we must.
The economic facts are stark. It's no accident that Arizona and Greater Phoenix have been among the
fastest-growing economies in the nation for nearly two decades. A rapidly growing immigrant population
fueled the runaway construction boom that drove the state's broad-based economic expansion, an
expansion that created jobs for Americans and immigrants alike.
Today, one in 10 Arizona workers is foreign-born. In 2004 alone, they added $43.7 billion to the state
economy. Even with the immigrant influx, unemployment in Arizona is close to the lowest in the land, still
hovering about 4 percent. And even with a recession looming, the state faces severe labor shortages in vital
sectors - agriculture, hospitality, home health care - that rely on unskilled labor.
Immigration enforcement is essential for our security, but unless it is combined with additional visas,
employers will not have access to the stable, reliable supply of labor we need. Add recessionary pressures,
and Arizona could be facing a perfect storm, a storm that could severely hobble our recovery from a
slowdown. Just as it's hard to grow a business without new workers, it's all but impossible to grow an
economy. Yet we are likely to find ourselves with fewer and fewer workers in the years ahead.
How practical is an Arizona-only temporary-worker program, and would it solve the problem we face?
Ultimately, the solution must come from Washington. It must apply to all 50 states. And along with a
pipeline for legal workers, it must include answers for the illegal immigrants already here. But Arizona
doesn't have the luxury of waiting for Washington to get its act together. Our economy is in danger now,
and if we're going to experiment with driving illegal immigrants out, we also need to experiment with
bringing legal workers in.
Congress doesn't like to be upstaged, and it may not grant the state the waiver it would need to implement
an Arizona-only temporary-worker program. But the only way to find out is to call Washington's bluff.
Skeptics who say the prospect is far-fetched forget a recent history-making parallel: Wisconsin's
experiments in the late 1980s and early '90s with welfare reform. Wisconsin, too, saw itself as a laboratory.
Wisconsin, too, sought a federal waiver. Wisconsin, too, bucked cynics and naysayers, tackling a problem
others said could not be solved. But before the state's pilot project was even a few years old, the federal
government was moving to imitate and build on it with broad, bipartisan, landmark legislation.
Arizona now, Washington before the decade is out? We won't know unless we try.
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Arizona Farm Bureau
Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform
Arizona Restaurant & Hospitality Association
Arizona Contractors Association
Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association
Western Growers Association Arizona Nursery Association
Arizona Cattle Feeders Association
Arizona Landscape Contractors' Association
FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Hammond Op-Ed): 'No-match' regulation does not
correspond to reality
By BILL HAMMOND
Friday, Mar 28, 2008
Special to the Star-Telegram
What would you call a federal regulation that gives U.S. employers no choice but to fire workers if they are
unable to resolve discrepancies over records kept by the Social Security Administration and the Social
Security number submitted on an employee's Form W-2?
The government calls it a "no-match" regulation. But many Texas employers call it just plain extreme.
By authorizing the "no-match" regulation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security presumes that
employers are criminals unless they can demonstrate otherwise. If employers cannot resolve a name or
number discrepancy involving an employee in 93 days, they will have to terminate workers or face civil and
criminal penalties for employing undocumented workers.
Employers will have to spend billions of dollars during the coming years to interpret and comply with this
draconian regulation. In Texas, if you examine the previous years' employment numbers and Social
Security's own estimates on faulty numbers, employers could be forced to seek protection from
prosecution by terminating as many as 750,000 workers. This amounts to almost 10 percent of our state's
total work force, and the impact on Texans and the Texas economy would be devastating.
The regulation originally was scheduled to take effect last September, but U.S. District Judge Charles
Breyer blocked implementation, finding that "the federal government's proposal to disseminate no-match
letters affecting more than 8 million workers will, under the mandated time line, result in the termination
of employment to lawfully employed workers."
The judge also found that "if allowed to proceed, the mailing of no-match letters, accompanied by DHS'
guidance letter, would result in irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers."
Homeland Security issued a rewritten regulation March 26, but the end result remains the same.
Discrepancies between workers' names and Social Security numbers often result from clerical errors or
name changes because of marriage or divorce. Because these types of errors have nothing to do with
immigration or work authorization, an employer cannot assume that receipt of a no-match letter implies
anything about the employee's legal status. Of the estimated 17.8 million errors in Social Security's
database, 12.7 million (or more than 70 percent) pertain to native-born U.S. citizens.
Employers are not notified of every mismatched record. The SSA notifies only those employers who have
mismatched information on more than 10 W-2 forms, and only if the total number of mismatched forms
is more than 0.5 percent of the total forms presented by the employer. Businesses could be liable for
mismatches of which they have no knowledge.
The new regulation also presents employers with a dilemma of threatened prosecution by the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement versus lawsuits for potential violation of the 1964 Civil Rights
Act, which protects all workers -- regardless of immigration status -- from discrimination in employment.
The Bush administration claims that the no-match regulation will discourage future illegal immigration. In
reality, it will jeopardize the employment of about 10 percent of the legal work force in the United States.
So what's the alternative? Rather than treating employers as adversaries in the immigration debate, the
administration should view employers as partners in economic growth and job creation. They should
suspend the no-match effort until alternative, more accurate databases are in place and employers have an
efficient way to correct data errors and to obtain status confirmation.
U.S. Reps. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, and Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, have an alternative that deserves
consideration. Their New Employee Verification Act would replace the federal government's current
employer verification process with an electronic verification system that would use the state "new-hire"
reporting process, which is currently used for child support enforcement. This would allow employers to
confirm the work eligibility of citizens through the Social Security database and that of noncitizens
through the DHS database.
The Bush administration should be working to improve the economy instead of using a ridiculous
regulation to make it impossible for businesses to operate and workers to work. It is vital that Congress
stop no-match before it goes through and replace it with a more effective solution.
DES MOINES REGISTER (Editorial): Immigration bill likely to hurt more than help
March 27, 2008
What's wrong with the state guarding against identity theft that helps someone get a job illegally?
Nothing, until you take a closer look at the potential impacts of a bill intended to do that. Its negative
consequences outweigh any potential gains. Lawmakers should defeat House File 2610.
The first problem with the legislation is it makes it more likely that Hispanic workers - whether citizens or
undocumented - will be viewed with suspicion. State Rep. Rick Olson, a Des Moines Democrat, said the
bill intends only to cast a wide net to catch anyone using fraudulent ID. Yet employers may be more likely
to discriminate against Hispanic job applicants if it becomes law.
Under the bill, employees would have to present a Midwestern-issued driver's license or identification card,
and employers would have to verify its authenticity by examining it - which is no guarantee they will detect
fraud. This is narrower than federal law, which lets new employees use additional forms of identification to
prove they are authorized to work, such as a passport or permanent residence card.
That raises a second problem: Iowa business and industry could be put at a competitive disadvantage
compared with other states that do not impose narrower rules than the federal government. That's why the
lobbyists who have declared opposition to the bill include representatives of Master Builders of Iowa, the
Iowa Association of Business and Industry and the Iowa Chamber Alliance. Creating higher hurdles for
hiring makes no sense when a serious work-force shortage is projected for Iowa.
In fact, the only declared supporters of the bill were the Iowa Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, the Central
Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council and the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades
Council. Tom Gillespie, who represents both councils, said their support rests primarily on the desire to
root out misuse of employees as independent contractors, which is also addressed by the bill.
Protecting Iowans against identity theft and safeguarding workers against exploitation are important, but it
is not at all clear this legislation will accomplish that - though it will cost taxpayer dollars. Olson said the
bill goes hand in hand with requirements Iowa must meet under the federal REAL ID law, but it seems
more like election-year pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment.
Growing frustration with the federal government's failure to fix the nation's broken immigration system is
understandable. An estimated 12 million illegal immigrants are in the country. In light of the lack of
leadership in Congress, many states are trying to craft their own laws to discourage undocumented workers
from remaining and newcomers from trying to cross the border.
Yet immigration policy can logically be set only by the federal government. A hodgepodge of state laws at
best creates confusion. Instead of passing House File 2610, Iowa lawmakers should join lawmakers from
other states to pressure Washington to agree to reforms such as realistic immigration quotas to meet
employer needs and reunify families. Include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, if
they are otherwise in good standing.
That would be practical and compassionate. The bill in the Iowa House is neither.
EL DIARIO/LA PRENSA (Editorial): Looming mess with E-Verify
New York City
EDITORIAL - 03/27/2008
The drive to turn small businesses and the Social Security Administration (SSA) into arms of immigration
enforcement threatens to create a new layer of problems for employers and workers across the board.
Through E-Verify, a program operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), employers can
voluntarily check the employment eligibility of new workers. Legislators, such as anti-immigrant
Congressman Tom Tancredo, are pushing to make E-Verify mandatory in every state, for all employees.
But there is a litany of problems with E-Verify, including the high error rate of databases used for
verification and the documented misuse by employers that has had adverse effects on workers.
The databases used include social security records. Yet, as the National Immigration Law Center points
out, 17.8 million social security records contain discrepancies, with the great majority of those records – 12
million—belonging to U.S. citizens. It is why persons who are authorized to work are among those
receiving “no match” letters from the SSA.
Programs like E-Verify are perceived as simply crackdowns on undocumented immigrants. Instead, they
are deeply flawed, intrusive measures that would misidentify people who can legally work here. That
bureaucratic mess—especially in the context of DHS’s inefficiency— could leave people out of work.
Workers would not only pay the price. Because DHS is attempting to shift some of the weight of
immigration enforcement to businesses, it is also burdening these employers with the costs and time of
doing so. Small businesses can least afford that.
Making broken programs “tougher” does not eliminate the core issues that were there to begin with.
Legislators should not sign on to Tancredo’s proposal, and Congress should not allow short-sighted
approaches to substitute for immigration reform.
NEW JERSEY JEWISH NEWS (Gall Op-Ed): SAVE Act endangers real immigration reform
by Allyson M. Gall
March 27, 2008
American immigration policy stands again at a critical juncture. Congress is now considering a
controversial piece of legislation, the Save America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. It
should be rejected.
The SAVE Act would repeat the same ineffective strategies used in the past to battle illegal immigration by
focusing on ill-advised enforcement-only measures.
This legislation, among other things, calls for more spending on imperfect border security; mandates the
use of a flawed employer verification system; allocates additional taxpayer dollars to prosecute and remove
needed workers; and reinforces a system that allows illegal activity to thrive.
By advocating such measures, the SAVE Act ignores the serious national security and humanitarian
concerns that could have been addressed by the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which
was felled by irresponsible politicization.
Over the last 20 years, the United States has repeatedly tried to control immigration through solutions
directed almost entirely on penalties and deportation.
This approach has failed dramatically. Despite substantial increases in the number of border patrol agents
and funding for enforcement, immigration experts estimate that millions of people have entered the U.S.
without authorization over the last decade.
By enshrining such tactics, the SAVE Act ensures that valid concerns over security go unaddressed.
For years, unscrupulous American employers have offered undocumented workers wages well below the
legal minimum, imposed unhealthy working conditions, and threatened workers’ livelihoods. While the
majority of U.S. employers honorably handle their business affairs, those that take gross advantage of
illegal labor must be held accountable.
The centerpiece of the SAVE Act is an employment verification system which, according to the Social
Security Administration, is riddled with errors that could result in the loss of jobs for over 12 million U.S.
citizens. These perfectly legal citizens, through no fault of their own, are not registered correctly in the
system, and, according to the SAVE Act, would need to be terminated.
Instead of addressing design flaws in the verification system’s predecessor pilot program or revamping the
faulty database, the system Congress is currently considering would further support an infrastructure
incapable of handling millions of employer participants.
The SAVE Act does not hold employers accountable for their actions and undermines efforts to create a
modern, accurate, and mandatory employer verification system that has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal
Particularly after the tragic events of Sept. 11, Americans have sought a panacea for the immigration and
security challenges our nation faces.
The American Jewish Committee, and our coalition partners, have repeatedly turned to our elected
officials to create a system that upholds the delicate balance required to maintain our pluralistic identity
and our safety. We rely on them to take responsible steps to create effective solutions.
Rather than address those grave concerns, however, the SAVE Act would likely maintain the current status
of our failing borders, increase suspicion and hateful rhetoric against immigrants, and cripple the U.S.
economy by punishing legal workers for errors for which they are not responsible.
While expediency is crucial, Congress must not endorse legislation that compounds the dysfunction in our
The SAVE Act endangers the development of a balanced solution to our nation’s immigration challenges.
Signing it into law would be an unforgivable failure of American ingenuity.
Allyson M. Gall is the NJ executive director of the American Jewish Committee.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES (Editorial): Comprehensive plan needed on immigration
March 23, 2008
In place of meaningful immigration reform, both conservative and liberal politicians have hatched
piecemeal plans. This won't work.
Conservative Democrats, including Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois and Rep. Heath Shuler of North
Carolina, are joining Republicans to sponsor the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement Act,
which calls for beefing up the border with Mexico and requiring employers to do more to not hire -- and
to fire -- undocumented workers.
The problem with the SAVE Act is that it is an enforcement-only piece of legislation and does not include
a plan to legalize any of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. It amounts to
"deport them all."
The SAVE Act calls for posting 8,000 more agents along the border, and for employers to use federal
databases to verify the status of all workers within four years. Those databases, however, are fundamentally
flawed. Immigrants eligible to work in the U.S. legally -- and even U.S. citizens -- could be mistakenly
flagged for something as simple as a typo. They would be reported to their employers, putting them in the
position of having to prove they can work here legally. Struggling with government bureaucracy can be
hard enough without being swept up in the web of an error-filled computer database.
The SAVE Act also would broaden the definition of alien smuggling to include Americans who aid
undocumented immigrants. This could implicate social workers, teachers, priests or even family members.
Watch out, Rev. Walter "Slim" Coleman, the Chicago pastor who offered Elvira Arellano sanctuary in his
church for a year.
This isn't the only bad idea floating around Congress.
Hispanic Democrats are blocking visas for seasonal workers who come to work here legally. They work
winters in ski lodges and summers in resorts and carnivals. Blocking their visas hurts businesses from
Massachusetts to Illinois that count on these legal immigrants from Jamaica, Eastern Europe and Mexico.
But members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which includes Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, don't
want to renew visas for legal seasonal workers until they get support in Congress for a legalization program
for undocumented workers.
Yes, they have a point. But to punish workers who come here legally to create leverage in a larger cause is
Democrats and Republicans are failing us all. Sooner or later, they will have no choice but to develop a
comprehensive plan that secures our borders and creates a humanitarian pathway to legalization for 12
million undocumented immigrants.
MIAMI HERALD (Durst Op-Ed): This is simply `legislated meanness'
By ILLENE DURST
Posted on Fri, Mar. 21, 2008
SAN DIEGO -- Arizona's recent attempt to halt the employment of the undocumented within its borders
will not deter more workers from crossing the border.
Exasperated with what it perceives as the federal government's failure to control our border with Mexico,
Arizona will now sanction Arizona employers who knowingly hire the undocumented. Such employers run
a serious risk of losing their licenses to operate a business.
Although the state has reported an increase in people leaving the state since Jan. 1, when the law took
effect, only the politicians and anti-immigrant coalitions who supported the law are claiming success.
Economists point out that the state's economy is experiencing a serious downturn, and it is impossible to
distinguish whether the law or the weak economy is causing increased apartment vacancy rates, reductions
in school populations, or shorter lines in emergency rooms.
The Arizona Republic in Phoenix has reported that ``everyone knows someone who is struggling to hang
on to a business closely tied to the housing industry.''
And those who are leaving Arizona may be taking their consumer expenditures along with them: sales tax
collections show a 2 percent decline statewide for the current fiscal year.
Arizona undermines its own economy by seeking to rid itself of immigrants. A December 2007
Congressional Budget Office report recognized that most efforts to evaluate the economic impact of
unauthorized immigrants on state coffers have concluded that tax revenues generated by documented and
undocumented immigrants exceed the cost of public services they use.
Taxes paid by immigrants
An even more current report from the American Immigration Law Foundation cited a 2007 study that
balanced Arizona state tax revenues paid by immigrant workers -- including naturalized U.S. citizens and
non-U.S. citizens -- against services provided, and found a net profit to the state of about $940 million for
fiscal year 2004.
Most analysts believe that studies such as these apply to the undocumented as well. Studies showing the
specific contributions from the undocumented in Iowa, Oregon, Texas and the Chicago metropolitan area
all showed revenues exceeding services for the population.
Finally, the CBO report concluded that even if public spending exceeded the taxes generated, spending by
state and local governments to provide services to the undocumented on average accounted for less than 5
percent of total spending for the particular service. Arizona has one issue right: workers cross the border
unlawfully to find jobs. If the opportunity to support oneself and one's family is no more present in the
United States than in Mexico, many Mexicans will much prefer to eke out a living in the country where
they were born, speak the language, have a history. But, of course, even with the United States' depressing
economic forecast, our economy remains substantially stronger than that of Mexico.
Much like the $15 million high-tech ''virtual border fence,'' which Arizona Sen. John McCain called a
disgrace for its dysfunctionality, the law will accomplish little to regulate the flow of workers across the
This country has a 70-plus year history of luring Mexican workers across the border, first for agricultural
labor, then for household help, and now for construction, manual labor and some manufacturing
One state's threat to punish business owners through license forfeiture will not stop this entrenched
pattern. At best, Arizona will only ''deport'' the undocumented to neighboring states where the jobs still
Let us hope that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recognizes this legislated meanness as a
misguided scapegoating, frequent in economic hard times, and as an unconstitutional subversion of the
federal government's authority to police immigration.
Ilene Durst is an associate professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Tsao Letter): Decision over the SAVE Act
March 20, 2008
The House Republican leadership is at it again. Having failed to learn from the failure of immigration as an
issue in the 2006 elections--and in the recent election to fill Dennis Hastert's seat--they are trying once
again to use the issue as a wedge this year. Their vehicle this time is the so-called "SAVE Act" (HR 4088),
sponsored by Democrat Heath Shuler but co-sponsored by more than half of the House Republican
Caucus, including anti-immigrant firebrand and failed presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. The House
GOP is now gathering signatures to force a vote on this bill on the House floor.
The Shuler-Tancredo bill purports to crack down on illegal immigration. Its main impact, however, will be
to push American workers out of their jobs due to faulty government data. At the core of this bill is a
program called E-Verify, through which employers are supposed to be able to check whether their
employees are legally authorized to work. The bill would mandate that all employers verify the status of all
of their workers within four years.
This program, however, is only as good as the data on which it relies, and that data is serious flawed.
About 18 million individual earnings records on file at Social Security have discrepancies. Two-thirds of
these records are those of U.S. citizens. Forcing employers to use these records to check on their workers
will result in millions of workers losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
Even worse, this data is not secure. Anyone posing as an employer could get access to E-Verify, and see
every single record in the database. Expanding this database program could open up our wage records and
other personal data to hackers and others who have no business seeing this information.
How will House Democrats respond? The key is Illinois' own Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who chairs the House
Democratic Caucus and who, as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, recruited
Rep. Shuler to run for his seat. Last year, Emanuel called immigration the "third rail" of American politics.
Will he urge his caucus to play it safe on immigration by appearing tough on immigrants? Or will he work
with his caucus to resist the false promises of Shuler-Tancredo, and insist on the comprehensive reform
that our immigration system really needs? The fate of millions of workers, citizens and non-citizens alike,
hinges on this choice.
[Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights]
NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI DAILY JOURNAL (Editorial): Revisit immigration
3/20/2008 6:39:59 AM
Gov. Barbour on Monday signed into law Senate Bill 2988, which makes working as an illegal immigrant in
Mississippi a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and a fine, plus deportation, and levies
penalties, including loss of licensure and loss of government contracts, for offending
Barbour's signing message included important caveats with which we agree, and we suggest additional
changes during the 2008 session to strengthen the law and potentially save Mississippi taxpayer dollars.
Barbour's message specifically cites a requirement that employers verify immigrant status through a federal
Department of Homeland Security system called E-Verify. The problem, as Barbour documents, is that E-
Verify is flawed and unreliable by the federal government’s admission. He correctly proposes additional
verification measures to ensure that legal immigrants not be misidentified and unjustly prosecuted along
The identification process is important for two broad reasons:
- Preventing discrimination against legal immigrant workers, which is illegal under federal law.
- Ensuring that private-sector employment positions aren't involuntarily vacated by a flawed law and
unreliable computer information.
While business people bear responsibility for reasonably determining legal status, theirs is not an
investigative role. Businesses exist for profit, and all operate at least partially on an assumption that
documentation presented them on various issues is authentic and legal.
Further, why would Mississippi go further than federal law and make illegals’ holding a job a felony? It is
not a federal crime, although being an illegal immigrant is a crime. The federal government deports illegals.
Why would Mississippi not do the same thing, working with federal authorities, rather than additonally
spending more than $12,000 per year in tax dollars, based on daily costs, to imprison non-violent illegal
Mississippi’s corrections budget is growing and the
prison population is expanding with native-born lawbreakers. Why not take the simplest, least expensive
route – deportation?
Further, who will enforce the Mississippi law? Which investigative law enforcement agency has the
personnel, time and financial resources to undertake the task? Sweeping laws like Senate Bill 2988 require
method and resources with the mandate. Where are those assets?
Legislators, to ensure the new law is more than an empty, flawed political gimmick, need to revisit the
provisions Barbour cited, reconsider imprisonment at state expense, and reconsider achievability and
affordability of enforcement with existing resources.
The underlying fact, which makes many people uncomfortable, is that Mississippi’s businesses and
industries employ more legal immigrants as our population becomes more diverse. Recent immigrants,
particularly Latinos, have become increasingly important in Mississippi’s labor force.
The law holds the potential to cause unintended problems. It needs to be fixed before the 2008 session
Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 3/20/2008.
FORBES (Paparelli Op-Ed): Hurry Up And Let Them In
Angelo A. Paparelli 03.20.08, 6:00 AM ET
Shame on Congress. Shame on the Bush administration. With the economy in freefall, our leaders are
blind to the simple fix that would quickly create jobs and inject financial vitality into every region of the
nation: jobs-based immigration reforms.
There is a postpartisan solution. Improve the laws on legal immigration of foreign workers. Scrap the 1990
temporary worker quotas, which grant a set number of visas to foreign employees; they are numbers
chosen out of thin air. Allow U.S. employers with job openings to hire professional and skilled foreign-
born workers who are either waiting abroad or about to graduate from America's colleges and universities
(ensuring, of course, robust safeguards for labor-law enforcement). Create a clear path to green cards and
citizenship for the law-abiding foreign workers who contribute skills and talents that help grow our
Comprehensive reform of illegal immigration must, of course, wait until election-season mania has
subsided and a new government is installed. But in the twilight of the present power structure, the
diddling, dawdling, fiddling and twiddling must stop. Small-bore immigration solutions, targeted to the
pressing needs of the current economy, must be enacted now.
Congress must stop fixating solely on border security and the small numbers of brazen employers who
hire workers illegally. Concentrate instead on the jobs that are begging to be filled. As food prices rise,
crops are rotting on the vine for lack of harvesters. As Americans with skimpy wallets and a feeble
currency forgo summer travel abroad, hoteliers and restaurant owners must scale back hours of operation
for lack of hospitality-industry workers.
As S&P 500 companies try to fill 140,000 job openings and U.S.-based technology firms are short an
average of 470 workers each, American businesses--large and small--scamper to prepare professional-
worker petitions for submission by April 1 to a helmless department of U.S. Citizen and Immigration
Services. The result? What will likely be a once-yearly H-1B visa lottery for jobs that cannot be filled until
Oct. 1. By that point, those spots will have sat empty for six months.
Pity the talented international students graduating with a bachelor's degree this June. In most cases, these
graduates must leave the U.S. because they don't yet qualify under the current quota, and jobs under next
year's quota don't come online again until October 2009. What's to say they'll come back? Our global
competitors are savvy. They vie to recruit "made-in-America" foreign students to replace retiring workers
in their aging and increasingly childless societies. New research shows that, contrary to urban legend, the
hiring of H-1B visa-holders tends to increase, not decrease, employment of Americans at U.S. technology
companies. Why don't we, as a nation, keep the foreign professionals that our own universities mint?
Pity, too, the high school valedictorians and other top achievers, innocent children brought to and kept in
this country by law-breaking parents--students whose only infraction is their foreign birth. Raised in
America and indistinguishable from our own teens, they face a graffiti-covered brick wall, unable to attend
or pay for college and unable to work legally. Their choices are the underground economy or gang
Why must this folly continue? No reason--except for a pusillanimous Congress, cowed by cable TV
pundits and bloviating bloggers who fuel the flames of xenophobia, all of whom have apparently forgotten
the public's emphatic rejection of every anti-immigration candidate running for election this primary
While Congress hones in on steroids in baseball, President Bush insists on amnesty for telecom companies
for their complicity in the allegedly illegal wiretapping of American citizens and the media breathlessly
trace the philandering of a disgraced former governor and a big city mayor, our economy continues to
shrink. Though it's not a silver bullet, jobs-focused reform of the legal immigration system will contribute
tangibly to the mending of our failing economy. Congress must take action now.
Angelo A. Paparelli, who practices immigration law in New York City and Irvine, Calif., is the president of the Alliance of
Business Immigration Lawyers.
JACKSON (MS) CLARION-LEDGER (Editorial): Immigration: Pandering to fears is shameful
March 19, 2008
Which is worse, a politician pandering to fears just to make political hay or a politician passing a law that
can't be enforced and makes criminals of law-abiding businesses just to make political hay?
With the state's anti-immigration bill newly elected Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant pushed through the Legislature
and Gov. Haley Barbour signed into law, they've done both!
At least Barbour acknowledged that Senate Bill 2988 he OK'd Monday is a stinker - "I have serious
concerns ... the bill could have unintended negative consequences," he said.
But, then, passing the buck for signing a bad bill into a bad law, he added: "I urge the Legislature to make
the necessary technical changes to ensure this bill will have the intended effect." Don't count on it.
Why not leave immigration to Congress where it belongs? New legislation is being developed to protect
employers and ensure legal workers by both Republicans (www.legal-workforce.org) and Democrats
(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backs the bipartisan STRIVE Act of 2007).
The Legislature was stampeded into passing this abomination because state lawmakers saw what happened
to former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott when he backed a reasonable federal law to address immigration. He got
pilloried by the right wing of his party.
Bryant, who had started as state auditor wondering about the cost to the state from illegal immigration,
apparently found to his surprise and satisfaction that he could turn that interest into votes at the ballot
What both Republicans need to realize is that the fury behind such bad dog bills can bite you.
Ask Lott whose attempt to seek a workable solution to a difficult problem turned longtime supporters into
SB 2988 is just another in a bevy of bills in legislatures nationwide that pander to talk show blowhards
offering a lot of heat but not much light on immigration. It is resulting in a patchwork of conflicting
ostensibly anti-immigration but in fact anti-business laws.
The E-Verify system the bill uses is blatantly flawed. If it's used, an estimated 6 million U.S. citizens and
legal residents could wrongly be denied employment. That's not including its inability to detect identity
theft or fraud, which makes even the most law-abiding employers criminals.
How any conservative pro-business Republican could support a dog like SB 2988 shows how rabid is the
But it's shameful to feed irrational fears with irrational laws
McCOMB (MS) ENTERPRISE-JOURNAL (Editorial): Senseless bill on immigrant labor
By The Enterprise-Journal
March 19, 2008
For proof that illegal immigration has become an issue that prompts people to act thoughtlessly, look no
further than a bill that won wide approval this session by both houses of the Mississippi Legislature.
The Mississippi Employment Protection Act, if signed into law by Gov. Haley Barbour, will require all
employers in the state to use a federal Department of Homeland Security system to verify that a person
being hired is either an American citizen or is in the country legally.
The bill specifies penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. While it builds in a
number of exceptions, an employer who violates this law could lose his state business license for a year, or
be ineligible for a public government contract for three years, or both.
Finally, the bill makes it a felony for anyone in the country illegally to take a job. The penalty is one to five
years in prison, a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 or both.
On its face, the Mississippi Employment Protection Act sounds like a stern effort to rid the state of any
problems it has with illegal immigrants taking jobs. It's not. It just gives lawmakers a chance to play to
popular fears while putting harsher burdens on those working in the country illegally instead of the people
who hire them.
The very idea of adding another layer of bureaucracy should be poison to most Republican lawmakers,
who are always demanding smaller government. Yet the bill requires all employers to use that Homeland
Security verification program.
Even the Mississippi Economic Council, a prominent business lobby, has questioned the wisdom of
putting this kind of regulation on private companies.
As for the penalties against employers, they seem weak, especially when compared to the idea of putting an
illegal immigrant in jail for taking a job. If a business willingly violates this law, it might be shut down for a
year and pay a fine.
Maybe this is overly cynical, but it's a good bet that state officials don't want to be in the habit of shutting
down businesses, even the worst offenders. The state would probably give warning after warning before
taking serious action.
Then there are those felony charges.
A couple of weeks ago, lawmakers approved bills that would exempt more convicts from the 85 percent
"truth-in-sentencing" requirements. Housing prisoners is expensive. Now they have approved something
that could put illegal immigrants in prison - at taxpayer expense, if the law is properly enforced. Drug
dealers, out of jail. Illegal immigrants, in. Where's the logic in that?
This is not a defense of illegal immigrants. People who entered the country illegally should be returned to
their home. If it takes a wall to secure our border with Mexico, so be it.
Why are people coming here illegally? Mostly for the jobs. This bill slaps a harsher penalty on the people
who take the underground jobs than it does on the people who seek out illegal immigrants for work so
they can reduce their costs. This is like baiting a field with corn and arresting any deer that show up for
supper. Seduced by the opportunity to show voters they're getting tough on immigration, senators passed
the bill unanimously. It got only eight dissenting votes in the House. But this bill is not much different
from congressional inaction on illegal immigration.
Had lawmakers ordered felony charges, fines and prison time for those who hire illegal immigrants, and
then assigned a specific agency to monitor compliance, that would be progress. Not this bill. If it becomes
law, it'll be one more regulation that rarely gets enforced.
- Enterprise-Journal, McComb
WICHITA EAGLE (Editorial): Immigration law should do good
Posted on Tue, Mar. 18, 2008
Kansas lawmakers are under intense pressure from certain constituents to do something on illegal
immigration this session, even as a vast array of business, agriculture and faith groups lobby hard for the
Legislature to do no harm.
Good sense has prevailed in the House and Senate committees, where some unworkable and costly
mandates have been stripped out. But proponents have promised to try again as the bills come up for
debate and votes this week.
Whatever becomes law should actually be something that will be a benefit -- for more than lawmakers' re-
election -- and not become an ineffective burden on businesses and the state budget.
The broadest support remains for punishing employers that flout federal law and act as magnets for
undocumented workers. The eventual loss of a business license in cases of such habitual hiring seems
reasonable, as does making it a crime to engage in human trafficking. It's also smart to give the Attorney
General's Office some authority over illegal immigration in coordination with the federal government.
But lawmakers should continue to be wary of relying on the federal database E-Verify, which businesses
would have to use (via state labor officials) starting in 2010 under the House bill. Its reported 10 percent
error rate is too high for comfort or fairness.
Beyond the employer crackdown, there is little to like in the proposals.
Local law enforcement departments shouldn't be required to enforce federal immigration laws or else risk
losing state funding, as called for in the House bill.
And before lawmakers require still more documentation of citizenship to get a driver's license or public
benefit, they should recall how the new federal requirement that those applying for Medicaid and
HealthWave show proof of citizenship created a huge application backlog in Kansas, cost $1 million and
turned up one illegal immigrant among the applicants.
Meanwhile, legislative action in Arizona and Colorado shows why a national reform policy is needed that
addresses both security and the need for immigrant workers. Lawmakers in those states are debating
whether to create their own guest-worker programs to offset labor shortages in industry and agriculture.
While state lawmakers wait for Congress and the next president to do their job on this tough issue, they
should do what's right for Kansas and its businesses.
And if state Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, wants to do something with the 300 e-mails he says he's
received on illegal immigration (299 of the get-tough variety), he can forward them to Congress.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman
FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Romero Syndicated Op-Ed): That policy vacuum will be
By PHILIP J. ROMERO
Special to McClatchy-Tribune
Friday, March 14, 2008
EUGENE, Ore. -- As the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum. On immigration policy, for most of the
last 20 years -- since the last immigration "reform" act was passed in Congress in 1986 -- a vacuum is about
all that has emanated from Washington.
So states are attempting what the feds won't do. The illegal immigrant problem that was first placed on the
national radar by California in the early 1990s has expanded beyond a handful of border states to almost
every state, with only vacuous statements from our national "leaders."
Amid the debate about how to control our borders, a simple truth is rarely voiced: Many industries have
built their business models on cheap labor and have no desire to end illegal immigration. They dress up
their business imperative in politically correct language to give the politicians whom they support a
publicly acceptable reason for opposing real reform such as a tamper-proof national ID card.
Politicians, Republican and Democrat, outbid each other in proposing supposedly "tough" immigration
laws -- and then conveniently fail to provide agencies with the resources to enforce them. Recent highly
publicized initiatives by the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on employers may change
this, but there have been Potemkin-village "sweeps" before.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the issue has increasingly been taken up at the state and local levels. It's now a
la carte immigration policy.
Some big-city councils have passed ordinances declaring sanctuaries. More commonly, jurisdictions have
grown tired of waiting for the federal government and are mandating sanctions that the feds can't seem to
make happen. Arizona's recent law is one example: It imposes state penalties on employers who hire illegal
Why have Arizona voters, and by extension others, taken the law into their own hands -- quite possibly
First, they see it as an economic imperative. The majority of illegal immigrants come from poor rural
regions of Mexico and Central America. Their average level of education is barely six years of school.
Combined with a lack of English proficiency, this consigns them to low-skilled, low-paid jobs. Most of
government subsidies are targeted to low-income residents and are mandated by federal courts, regardless
of the recipient's legal status.
Illegal immigrants absorb far more in government support than what they provide in tax dollars -- by a
margin of at least 8 to 1. Taxpayers in states such as Arizona, seeing their dollars siphoned off to go to
recipients they never intended, have every right to be outraged.
Second, although illegal immigrants are motivated by a desire to work, not dependence, they also are
flouting the law, and ultimately our very sovereignty. Evading one legal obligation often leads to broader
and more serious criminality -- and in fact, illegal immigrants disproportionately populate state prisons.
Ironically, the Arizona measure that has received the most attention is Proposition 300, prohibiting in-state
university tuition discounts for illegal immigrant students. Prop 300 went into effect Jan. 1.
It is probably not in Arizonans' long-term interests to make it hard for illegal immigrants to enter the
middle class through college. But every such concession only maintains the look-the-other-way policy that
has been endemic for generations.
In the absence of sincere federal action to match its brave promises, Arizona's frustration is entirely
understandable. Expect more of the same from other states, absent effective, long-overdue reform from
Philip J. Romero is a professor of business administration at the University of Oregon and author of Racing Backward: the
Fiscal Impact of Illegal Immigrants . 421 Lillis Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene,
NEW YORK TIMES (Editorial): The Road to Dystopia
March 13, 2008
The search for a silver bullet to slay illegal immigration continues. Hard-liners are turning the country
upside down looking for it.
They are looking in Washington, where Senate Republicans last week offered more than a dozen bills to
further enshrine mass deportation as the national immigration strategy. It is a grab bag of enforcement
measures that will be useful for tough-talking campaign commercials, but will not actually solve anything.
Republicans and some Democrats in the House are trying to force a vote on a bad bill called the SAVE
Act, which among other things would force all workers, including citizens, to prove they have a right to
earn a living — a bad idea compounded by the notoriously bad state of federal government records.
The error rate in just one database, the Social Security Administration’s, is believed to be more than 4
percent, making it likely that many thousands of Americans would face unjust firings and discrimination,
and waste a lot of time and effort trying to clear their names.
The harsh-enforcement virus has spread far beyond the Capitol. In states like Oklahoma, laws have been
enacted to force illegal immigrants further underground, off official registries and into anonymity, by
denying them identification like driver’s licenses. In a growing number of states and counties, politicians
are offering up police officers to the federal government for immigration posses. From Prince William
County, Va., to Maricopa County, Ariz., officers who pull people over for minor traffic infractions are
checking immigration papers, too.
Many law-enforcement professionals say this is reckless and self-defeating, because it sends a deep,
silencing chill into immigrant communities. Citizens and legal residents will inevitably be hassled for
looking Latino. And it is expensive; Prince William’s new law is expected to cost $26 million over five
years, plus a few million more to outfit police cars with cameras, as a hedge against lawsuits.
Maybe some people do not mind that immigration zealotry is sending the country down a path of far
greater intrusion into citizens’ lives, into a world of ingrained suspicion, routine discrimination and
economic disruption. Is that what we want — to make the immigration system tougher without fixing it?
To make illegal immigrants suffer without any hope of ever becoming legal, because that is amnesty?
Could it be that tightening the screws relentlessly on illegal immigrants, even if some citizens suffer in the
process, is all for the greater good?
Which is — what exactly? To drive a large cohort of workers out of a sputtering economy? To take more
people off the books? To prop up the under-the-table businesses that inevitably evade such crackdowns?
To worsen wages and working conditions for all Americans, since nobody works more cheaply and takes
more abuse than a terrified, desperate immigrant?
This is a country that runs on routine amnesties. Where would the courts be without plea bargains, or state
budgets without periodic tax forgiveness? Are illegal immigrants the one class of undesirables for whom
common sense, proportionality, discernment, good judgment and compassion are unthinkable?
It is frightening to think that this country’s answer could be an emphatic yes.