SEPTEMBER 19, 2011
Bucking the national trend to curb illegal immigration, the country’s most populous state has passed a law forbidding private businesses as well as state and local governments from screening workers’ immigration status.It’s a baffling move on the part of legislators in a state—California— with well-documented financial struggles and a whopping 12.1% unemployment rate. Never the less, lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor that will essentially ban any employer—private or public—from using a national online database known as E-Verify to check workers’ immigration status. California cities that currently use E-Verify must immediately stop if the bill becomes law.California’s famously liberal governor, 73-year-old Jerry Brown, is expected to sign the measure (Employment Acceleration Act) which couldn’t come at a worse time for the state with the largest concentration of illegal aliens. Besides record-high unemployment, the (not so) Golden State is suffering through a dire financial crisis that has forced the early release of incarcerated felons, massive teacher layoffs and a huge cut in its notoriously generous entitlement programs.The move also comes as local governments across the U.S. pass laws making E-Verify mandatory, especially to screen candidates that will get paid with taxpayer dollars. California’s measure also conflicts with a bill (Legal Workforce Act) pending in the U.S. House that would require that all of the nation’s employers use E-Verify. The Texas congressman who introduced the measure says it could open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.Hundreds of thousands of employers across the nation use E-Verify and more than a dozen states have made it mandatory, even as the powerful open borders movement works to banish it. In 2007 Illinois became the first state to outlaw using the Homeland Security database to screen workers’ immigration status. The Bush Administration sued to stop the state from implementing the law and a watered down version was eventually implemented after a federal court nixed the original measure.The big question now is whether the Obama Administration, which claims that immigration is strictly a federal issue, will take action against California. In legal challenges to immigration control laws in Arizona and Alabama, the Department of Justice claims they conflict with federal immigration law and undermine the federal government’s careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives.
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