New York, NY: Community leaders, small business owners, and workers are participating in a nationwide day of action to speak out against H.R. 2164, legislation presented by Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, which would make the E-Verify program mandatory for nearly every employer in the United States. This legislation is expected to be taken up by the House Judiciary committee for markup at the end of this week.
Mandatory E-Verify is a jobs killer. It is bad for working people, bad for business and bad for the economy. If Congress mandates the use of E-Verify, forcing every business in the country to screen every employee with an error-ridden Department of Homeland Security computer database, over one million workers will likely lose their jobs. Industries like agriculture that rely on immigrant workers will be devastated, while small businesses will be taxed by having to shoulder the significant costs necessary to implement the computer system.
Anti-immigrant extremist politicians in Washington champion E-Verify and the bill has been a key component of notorious anti-immigrant hate legislation at the state level, like HB 56 in Alabama. While the United States has historically been a nation of immigrants, E-Verify panders to a vocal anti-immigrant minority that has dominated the immigration discussion.
Local actions point out that E-Verify will hurt all businesses and the fragile economy, and will leave workers more vulnerable to abuse on the job by giving unscrupulous employers yet another tool to use against workers who try to stand up for their rights.
“The truth is that E-Verify is a jobs killer and that the system needs to be fixed. We need comprehensive solutions to raise wages for our workers, make sure they work in good conditions, and ensure that everyone is on a level playing field,” said Jaime Contreras, SEIU 32BJ District Chair.
Small business owners are joining local actions because E-Verify will place a significant burden on small businesses, raising their costs even as they are struggling in this economy. Almost every business—no matter how small—will be forced to implement this complicated system. For many small businesses, many of which can’t afford a human resources department, this could be disastrous. The estimated cost to small businesses is $2.6 billion, according to Bloomberg News. More than 770,000 citizen and legal workers will wrongly be marked as ineligible for work due to errors in government databases.
“This E-Verify proposal is bad for small businesses, bad for our workforce, and bad for the country’s bottom line,” said small business owner David Borris. “We need the U.S. Chamber to listen to small business, and withdraw its support for this flawed proposal. Why is the Chamber nibbling around the margins and accepting a piecemeal non-solution that will have a serious negative impact on small businesses?”
Participating localities include: Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Washington DC; and Long Island, New York.
Coordinated by National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Immigration Law Center, Jobs with Justice, National Employment Law Project and the Service Employees International Union.