In a co-authored letter sent earlier today, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) urged the Senate leadership to include provisions in the economic stimulus package that would require businesses using stimulus money to use E-Verify to ensure the jobs are going to American citizens. The House version of the bill, which passed last night, included an amendment requiring the use of E-Verify, but the current Senate version does not include it.

The letter comes one day after federal authorities agreed to delay the start of an order requiring federal contractors to use E-Verify. The start date was moved from Feb. 20 to no sooner than May 21.
Senators Jeff Sessions and Ben Nelson

Senators Jeff Sessions and Ben Nelson

Both Senators pressed for the mandatory use of E-Verify since the bill would be paid for by American taxpayers.

"American taxpayers are going to pay for every penny of this massive stimulus bill if Congress approves it," Sessions said. "The purpose of the package is to create new jobs for Americans. One common-sense way to ensure that lawful citizens benefit from the proposal is to require businesses to check a job applicant's legal status using the E-Verify system."

"With so many Americans out of work today, this economic recovery package must focus on the creation and retention of jobs," said Senator Nelson. "We must do our best to make sure that the jobs this package creates and supports go to the American people."

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

The economic stimulus package is needed, in part, to spur the economic growth necessary to help create new jobs in America. With this in mind, we write to urge you to include provisions in the legislation that will help ensure that jobs created by the stimulus are for hardworking Americans.

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for December was 7.2 percent. That figure, the highest in 16 years, translates into roughly 11.1 million American workers without jobs. In this time of increased unemployment, our focus should be on creating jobs that will be filled by American citizens.

An important step toward guaranteeing that new and existing jobs are for U.S. citizens is to require businesses benefiting from the stimulus package to use the E-Verify program. Currently, E-Verify is a voluntary program that allows for the quick comparison of an employee's personal information with over 444 million records in the SSA database and more than 60 million records in the DHS immigration database. Such an analysis is a useful and efficient tool to determine lawful citizenship. We are encouraged by the fact that close to 2,000 new businesses register to use the E-Verify system each week. And, with the implementation of Executive Order 12989 on January 15, 2009, all federal contractors and subcontractors are required to use the E-Verify system.

The stimulus package is intended to help ease the pain of the current recession and restore growth to our economy. If passed, it will be paid for by the American taxpayers and we believe that Congress should do all it can to ensure that American taxpayers are the intended beneficiaries of its efforts.

Although studies indicate that the illegal population in our country is decreasing, between 12 and 20 million illegal immigrants likely remain in the United States today. It is critical that the stimulus legislation include provisions to require the use of E-Verify when hiring workers to fill jobs created by the proposal. The inclusion of such a provision will be a key factor as we evaluate the merits of the stimulus package and gauge our support.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Updated: Wed, Dec 30th 2009 @ 11:41am EST