JUNE 10, 2009
The Obama Administration has again caved into the powerful lobbying efforts of business groups and immigration advocates, postponing for the fourth time implementation of a rule requiring federal contractors to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States.
Signed into law last year by a Bush executive order, the measure requires all companies with government contracts—nearly 200,000 firms with a combined workforce of around 4 million—to use an online employment verification system (E-Verify) operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to confirm that employees are in the U.S. legally.
The simple and effective program, designed to crack down on government contractors that hire illegal immigrants, allows employers to check the work status of new hires online by comparing information from an employee’s I-9 form against Social Security and Homeland Security databases. Thousands of firms have successfully used the system voluntarily for years.
After the Obama Administration’s third delay in February, Homeland Security officials assured that E-Verify would be fully enforced by June 30. However, the administration recently announced that it would again postpone its implementation, this time until September 8.
Some lawmakers are legitimately concerned that many of the 600,000 new jobs Obama promised to create in the next few months could in fact go to illegal immigrants if the verification system is not enforced. One ranking member of the House Judiciary rightfully said that Americans should not have to compete with illegal immigrants for taxpayer-funded federal contract jobs.
A major newspaper columnist, who refers to E-Verify as the special magic faucet for the billions of federal tax dollars gushing from Washington, points out that the system has been repeatedly studied and it works perfectly fine as a purely voluntary program. Making it a federal mandate frightens special interests so it languishes in legislative purgatory, according to the columnist.
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