It’s time to finally cut off the jobs magnet for illegal immigrants
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President Trump’s signature campaign pledge was to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop the flow of unlawful border crossings. Crowds of Trump supporters at rallies across the country memorably shouted in unison, “Build the Wall!” over and over again. While the president’s tough rhetoric on illegal immigration has already dramatically reduced the flow of unlawful border crossings, constructing a physical barrier — whether you call it a wall, fence, or something else — is necessary to prevent the flood gates of illegal immigration from reopening under a different administration.

But the illegal immigration issue is more complex than sealing the southern border. First, the U.S. has at least 11 million illegal aliens already living inside the country. Additionally, around 40 percent of the illegal alien population are visa overstays—those who entered the U.S. legally for a limited period of time and simply refuse to go home. The border wall won’t address these aspects of illegal immigration. To truly combat illegal immigration you must eliminate the pull factors, with the ability to work unlawfully in the country without fear of repercussions being the most significant magnet. To borrow an old Bill ClintonBill ClintonTop Oversight Dem pushes back on Uranium One probe Bill Clinton hits Trump, tax reform plan in Georgetown speech The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE campaign slogan: it’s the economy stupid. That’s why we need mandatory and universal E-Verify.

E-Verify is an electronically-based system that allows employers to authenticate the legal work eligibility of prospective applicants, the same way a merchant verifies a credit card purchase. First created by Congress in 1996, the optional program has a 99.7 percent accuracy rate, is free, and usually takes less than five seconds for an answer to come back.

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The current paper verification process is deeply flawed. H.R. departments are not document experts, nor should they be, and have no way of knowing whether driver’s licenses and social security cards are counterfeit or stolen Too often, unscrupulous employers intentionally look the other way because illegal aliens work for below market wages that pad businesses profit margins. These employers should face heavy fines as part of mandatory E-Verify reform.

 

E-Verify takes the guesswork out of the hiring process and puts all employers on a level playing field. Electronic verification would render counterfeit and stolen documents useless while offering employers an easy tool for ensuring the legality of workers. Although any employer can voluntarily participate now, few do because they either want to hire illegal aliens, or are forced to by the government’s refusal to crack down on competitors that blatantly favor illegal aliens over qualified Americans.

A recent report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) demonstrated the benefits of E-Verify. The study examined 14 states that have created or expanded E-Verify laws since 2009, the year the nation began to bounce back from the last big recession. Those states experienced a much quicker labor market recovery than the nation as a whole.

Why? Because E-Verify ensures that only authorized workers are hired, which not only helps America’s struggling middle and blue collar classes but also injects much-needed revenues into the local tax base as well. Jobs taken by illegal immigrants are most often off the books, with zero payroll taxes collected by local and federal governments.

Making E-Verify mandatory nationally would open the golden door of opportunity to many of America’s most disadvantaged workers who have been systematically pushed out of the workforce by widespread illegal immigration. For them, E-Verify represents an opportunity for a more prosperous future for their families.

E-Verify will end the lure of jobs that entices visitors to overstay their visas in the first place, while also dissuading those who might still try to illegally cross our borders for work. The most effective and humane way of enforcing laws is to convince people there is no benefit in breaking them. When we finally shut off the magnet that draws workers here, we’ll also shut off much of the flow, while protecting the jobs and wages of our most vulnerable workers.

Robert Law is the director of government relations at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).


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