The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has approved mandatory E-Verify many times. But it has never reached the House floor for a vote.
So, what makes the committee's passage of another mandatory E-Verify bill on Wednesday night any more likely to succeed?
NumbersUSA activists were successful in pushing the House Judiciary Committee to pass similar E-Verify bills on Sep. 21, 2011, on Dec. 16, 2014 and on March 3, 2015.
But it was largely believed that Speaker Boehner and then Speaker Ryan kept those bills from floor votes because they were bowing to the wishes of the agri-business lobbyists who wanted to protect their ability to hire an illegal work force.
For years, the agri-business lobbies have been the main employer hold-out on mandatory E-Verify. Most businesses prefer to have a reliable verification system that makes it easy for them to obey the law -- and, most of all, one that ensures that their competitors obey the law, too.
But Congressional Republican leaders have been unwilling to allow a floor vote on E-Verify until agri-business lobbyists feel they have gotten the changes they want in guest ag-worker programs.
Well, they got their ag-visa bill on Wednesday just before the passage of the E-Verify bill.
The ag-visa bill attempts to cut red tape, streamline the process and make it easier and more reliable to send for guest ag-workers. Agri-business ought to be mighty happy with everything it got in the bill.
We have reason to be happy, too. UNLIKE WHAT THE AGRI-BUSINESS LOBBY ALWAYS WANTED IN THE PAST, this ag-visa bill will not give a permanent amnesty to the hundreds of thousands of current illegal ag workers. They will not be given lifetime work permits and a path to citizenship. If they want to continue to work in the U.S., they will have to enter the legal guest worker program which requires periodic trips back home and renewals, and which prohibits them from having their families here or working outside agriculture.
AG BILL CAN'T GO INTO EFFECT UNTIL E-VERIFY MANDATED
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) may have made the most important change from the past with an amendment approved by the committee on a voice vote.
That amendment to the ag-visa bill includes a provision that requires the implementation of mandatory E-Verify before any of the ag bill's guest worker visas may be issued.
It is a good attempt to keep Republican leaders in the House and Senate from sabotaging the Judiciary Committee's good work by passing only the ag-visa bill and blocking the E-Verify bill from floor votes.
We know that the majority of Members in both Parties have ag interests in their Districts and states and will be under pressure to pass the ag-visa bill. The job of the NumbersUSA Activist Network will be to constantly keep passage of mandatory E-Verify in front of those Members.
WE HAVE TO CONTINUALLY REMIND CONGRESS THAT NO MATTER WHAT ELSE THEY MAY DO TO BEEF UP IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT, THEY WILL HAVE FAILED TO MAKE A SERIOUS DIFFERENCE IF THEY HAVEN'T TURNED OFF THE JOBS MAGNET.
NumbersUSA's endorsement of the E-Verify bill was entered into the committee record Wednesday and stated in part:
"NumbersUSA -- the nation's largest grassroots organization for controlled immigration, with an active network of more than 8 million U.S. citizens -- enthusiastically endorses the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711) as the most cost effective and efficient way to improve the lives of millions of Americans who are still struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder.
" . . . millions more jobs would both be available and be improved for the American workers and legal immigrants already here who would be recruited and trained to fill them.
"Most of these jobs are in construction, manufacturing, hospitality and other service occupations in which millions of Americans already are seeking full-time jobs. ...
"In light of the proven reliability and the high customer satisfaction ratings of the E-Verify system, we particularly applaud the requirement in your bill that all businesses in the nation use the system for new hires within two and a half years.
"We also are pleased that the Legal Workforce Act ends the big weakness of the current E-Verify system that allows illegal workers who have stolen legitimate identities to get through the system and obtain a job. ...
"The Legal Workforce Act also respects that states and localities have a role in helping enforce immigration laws. We are pleased that the bill allows states and localities to use a variety of enforcement tools, including the Federal employment authorization enforcement system and the revocation of business licenses. ...
"The people who would most benefit from your legislation are those in demographic groups who are having the most difficult time in this economy: Black and Hispanic Americans, the disabled, people trying to rebuild their lives after incarceration, and Americans without college degrees, especially younger adults.
"In short, the Legal Workforce Act reflects the high moral principles on economic justice and fairness advocated by the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by the late Barbara Jordan. National governments owe their most vulnerable citizens protection from uncontrolled immigration.
"Finally, serious observers of the problems on our borders recognize that the most important action that Congress could take to reduce the illegal traffic there would be to eliminate illegal crossers' belief that they will be able to obtain employment. Thus, the Legal Workforce Act would likely be the most effective border security bill ever passed."
Our hope now will be that as agri-business lobbyists continue to fight for their SPECIAL interest, the PUBLIC interest will be advanced with mandatory E-Verify finally being implemented.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Nov 10th 2017 @ 7:45pm EST