UPDATE: The Senate was unable to produce enough votes to end debate on the $401 billion Omnibus Appropriations bill on Thursday. Opponents wanted more time to debate and vote on amendments, which could include an E-Verify amendment.

Yesterday, Senate Leader Harry Reid blocked an attempt to add Sen. Jeff Sessions's E-Verify amendment that would extend the program for at least another five years. But with more debate coming today, there is a chance that the amendment could be considered.


The Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121.

For the past several months, certain Members of Congress have been using the extension of E-Verify as a bargaining chip. But now, it's time for Congress to stop fooling around by using E-Verify as a political football. Millions of unemployed Americans are waiting on E-Verify to open up a job for them.

Reps. Brian Bilbray and Heath Shuler have written a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner, urging them to extend E-Verify for 10 years. Call your Rep. NOW at 202-224-3121, telling them to sign the letter.

Recently, a constituent of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid received a letter unveiling his support for E-Verify. Fax your two Senators NOW urging them to extend E-Verify and test the statement made by Sen. Reid.

Here's the text of the letter drafted by Reps. Bilbray and Shuler:

Dear Madam Speaker and Republican Leader Boehner:

As Members of the House of Representatives, we appeal to you on behalf of American workers. Nationwide, 7.6 percent of the labor force–11.6 million workers–is unemployed, and millions more are involuntarily working part-time or have given up hope of finding a job. Estimates of the number of jobs that might be created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act) vary widely. While no one can predict exactly how many jobs will be created, we believe that the American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are being used to create jobs for legal workers.

While the House version of the Recovery Act included two E-Verify-related measures to ensure American jobs would be protected, the Senate failed to include similar language. Because of the Senate’s oversight, we, the undersigned Members of the House of Representatives, urge you to protect taxpayers and legal workers by including these critical jobs protection provisions in any future economic recovery legislation. The House version of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, H.R. 1105, included a short-term extension of the E-Verify program through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2009). While a short-term extension is a step in the right direction, it is difficult for business to plan and effectively utilize the program without its secure future.

According to recent analysis, as many as 300,000 illegal aliens could receive jobs funded by the recovery program because these provisions were not included in the final version of the Recovery Act. If these provisions do not become law, not only will the important E-Verify program be in danger of expiring on March 6, 2009, but it may mean that hundreds of thousands of potential jobs for American workers will be compromised.

The E-Verify program enjoys a success rate of 99.6%, meaning that 99.6% of those legal workers checked by the program are verified through E-Verify without receiving a tentative non-confirmation (TNC) or having to take any type of corrective action. Testifying in June, Rep. Heath Shuler said, “E-Verify is handling at least one in eight new hires already. Based on recent load testing, the system has the capacity to handle 240 million queries a year – that’s four times the number of people in the United States who are usually hired in a given year.” The E-Verify program is reliable, easy to use and, most importantly, expedient.

Employers who break the law by hiring illegal immigrants create unfair competition in the labor market and depress wages for all workers. The Center for Immigration Studies has found that the current level of immigration has reduced the wages of the average native-born worker in a low-skilled occupation by 12% a year, or almost $2,000. Alexander Aleinikoff, a former Clinton Administration INS official, Dean of Georgetown Law School and co-chair of the Immigration Policy Review Team for the Presidential Transition of Barack Obama, calls it a “myth” that “there is little or no competition between undocumented workers and American workers . . . .”

According to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, roughly 7.7 million illegal immigrants are employed in the United States in 2008. These are all jobs that currently unemployed United States workers–both citizens and legal immigrants–could and should have a chance to fill. If the E-Verify program is not reauthorized, this Congress and our President will spend more than $1 trillion of taxpayer money to possibly provide jobs for illegal workers. Please do everything within your power to protect legal workers by ensuring that the E-Verify program is reauthorized long-term in the Omnibus Appropriations Act.

Updated: Wed, Dec 30th 2009 @ 11:44am EST