The markup of Rep. Lamar Smith's Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885) in the House Judiciary coincided with news from around the country that emphasized the need for his national E-Verify bill. While President Obama and other officials around the country are shielding more than 7 million illegal workers, more than 22 million citizens and legal immigrants want a full-time job but can't find one.
Vermont's Gov. Peter Shumlin seemed to sum up the state of immigration enforcement in the U.S. when he told a local NBC affiliate that his state's policy on immigration enforcement is to "look the other way as much as we can" ("Vt. Gov. Wants Police Directive On Migrant Workers," 9/15/2011).
The Obama administration has identified hundreds of thousands of people who have illegally overstayed their visas. All but 2,000 of them will get a free pass because they don't meet President Obama's enforcement priorities ("U.S. Inquiry Traces Foreigners With Visas," New York Times, 9/13/2011).
A Federal task force has recommended scaling back the Secure Communities Program to avoid identifying illegal aliens who have been booked in jail for minor offenses ("Federal task force urges changes to immigrant fingerprint program," Associated Press, 9/15/2011). The New York Times reports that the "task force said immigration authorities should exercise far broader prosecutorial discretion to focus deportations on convicted criminals and steer away from immigrants with only civil violations" ("Deportation Program Draws More Criticism," 9/15/2011).
And in New York City, local lawmakers have proposed legislation "to forbid prison officials from turning over immigrants for deportation who have not committed a serious criminal act or do not appear on the terrorist watch list" ("NYC Lawmakers Push Legislation to Limit Cooperation Between Jail Officials and Immigration Authorities," Politic365, 9/15/2011). These headlines come just a week after the California State Senate passed a bill to prohibit state and local governments from mandating E-Verify, and Cook County, Illinois instructed sheriffs in the Chicago area to ignore federal requests to hold illegal aliens (Mark Krikorian writes about both of those cases in "Will the Justice Department Sue?," National Review Online, 9/16/2011)
The Obama administration and several state and local governments believe illegal workers should be allowed to compete for as many U.S. jobs as they like, as long as they don't commit other, more "serious" crimes. They turn a blind eye to illegal workers - most of whom have committed some form of identity fraud or theft to illegally acquire a job - and they turn a blind eye toward the citizen and legal immigrant workers forced to compete in an unjust labor market.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Rep. Lamar Smith's Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 2885 is the only way unemployed citizens and legal immigrant workers are going to get access to the more than 7 million illegally-occupied non-farm jobs. The Legal Workforce Act is an immigration jobs bill that cracks down on illegal employment and identity theft. Unlike the approach taken by President Obama and others above, the Legal Workforce Act addresses immigration as a jobs policy.
In "Illegal Immigration, Jobs Back in Spotlight at E-Verify Hearing," the Wall Street Journal reports:
But the coming tussle over the e-verify bill introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas) puts the spotlight squarely back on jobs. That is: Do the eight million or so undocumented workers in the U.S. take jobs from Americans who desperately need work? If so, would expelling illegals greatly ease unemployment?
H.R. 2885 is not a deportation bill, but it would "expel" millions of illegal workers from U.S. jobs. And the availability of U.S. jobs is what drives illegal immigration. President Obama, Gov. Shumlin, and the legislators of California, New York, and Illinois may not want to turn off the jobs magnet, but if Congress passes H.R. 2885, they won't have any choice.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Sep 20th 2011 @ 6:29pm EDT