Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If Majority Leader Reid Supports E-Verify Why Does the Senate Block Its Long-Term Reauthorization?

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the second time in as many months, the United States Senate had an opportunity to reauthorize the highly effective E-Verify system and chose not to. By rejecting an amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations bill offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to extend E-Verify through 2014, the Senate leadership belied their contention that they support this program that protects U.S. workers from losing jobs to illegal aliens.

E-Verify is a federal program that allows employers to voluntarily determine whether workers are legally authorized to work in the U.S. by electronically verifying their Social Security numbers. According to the Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify has a 99.6 percent accuracy rate.

In a letter to his Nevada constituents, Majority Leader Harry Reid states, "I strongly support programs like E-Verify that are designed to ensure that employers only hire those who are legally authorized to work in the United States, and believe we need to strengthen enforcement against employers who knowingly hire individuals who are not authorized to work." In fact, in 2006 and 2007, Senator Reid supported not only reauthorizing E-Verify, but making it mandatory for all employers nationwide.

But now, Sen. Reid and the Democratic leadership are singing a different tune:

-- In February, Sen. Reid blocked inclusion of amendments to the economic
stimulus bill that would have reauthorized E-Verify for five years,
and required that employers who receive stimulus money use E-Verify to
ensure they hire only legal U.S. workers. These provisions were
included in the House bill.
-- During the House-Senate conference committee finalizing the economic
stimulus package, Sen. Reid, together with Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
stripped the E-Verify provisions from the bill sent to President
-- Today, Sen. Reid and the Democratic majority voted down Sen. Sessions'
five year reauthorization of E-Verify.

Because of these actions, the vital protections that E-Verify offers to American workers at a time when unemployment is rising rapidly are on tenuous life support only until September 30. They also confirm that Senate leadership's primary interest in E-Verify is to use it as a bargaining chip in an effort to gain amnesty for illegal aliens.

"If the Senate leadership were truly interested in protecting American jobs from being filled by illegal aliens, E-Verify would have been reauthorized for five years and steps would have been taken to make its use mandatory by all employers," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

"The fact that E-Verify will only receive a six-month reauthorization, and the fact that employers receiving taxpayer stimulus money are not required to verify that workers are legal U.S. residents is not an oversight. It is a deliberate decision of the Senate leaders who place the interests of low wage employers and illegal aliens over the interests of millions of unemployed American workers who desperately need jobs.

"The defeat of the Sessions amendment demonstrates conclusively that the Senate leadership, contrary to what they say, is unwilling to protect the jobs of American workers," Stein concluded.

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