By: Shelly Ruzicka
The “Legal Workforce Act” being introduced by House Republicans led by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and Steve King (R-IA), is at worst, a direct attack on immigrant workers which will actually negatively impact millions of working people across the country, including mostly authorized workers. At best it is almost comical in its irony and hypocrisy. At a time when Republicans are crying foul on any federal spending and are pleading for smaller government, this Republican proposal will actually cost the federal government billions to implement and billions more in lost tax revenue.
Considering the current climate of supposed major concern over the deficit, such a proposal should be viewed as shocking and downright incompetent. What happened to Republicans clamoring to cut down the size of government? Apparently, when it comes to immigrants, they are ready to spend, spend, spend!
Several groups, including the non-partisan National Immigrant Law Center have provided studies and reports showing the negative impact on all workers in the U.S. were such a system put into place. They recently issued a summary of their concerns.
In short, some of the biggest issues are the following:
Loss of billions in tax revenue amidst an ongoing economic crisis.
- The Congressional Budget Office estimated that enforcing an e-verify system would cost the public approximately $17 billion in lost tax revenue over a ten year period due to undocumented workers leaving the tax system and being paid under the table by employers.
- Additionally, just implementing the program could cost upwards of $23 billion over the next 10 years.
Hundreds of thousands of authorized workers (aka citizens and legal residents) will lose or risk losing their jobs due to a 50% error rate in the system.
- It is estimated that in 2010 alone, at least 80,000 people lost their jobs due to E-Verify errors.
- Approximately 770,000 more could lose their jobs if implementation happens at a federal level.
Millions of workers, including mostly those who are authorized, will be forced into government bureaucracy and paperwork hell in order to try and save their jobs (with no guarantee of doing so)
- If E-Verify is required at a federal level, approximately 1.2 million U.S. citizens and work-authorized immigrants would have to contact SSA or DHS or risk losing their jobs.
- A NILC study found that even the Government Accountability Office recognized this problem, calling any attempt to fix an e-verify error “formidable.”
Millions of people authorized to work will be prevented from gaining employment due to errors that claim they are not authorized
- Because the proposed bill would require employers to pre-screen applicants, and because of the high error rate in the system, millions of people seeking employment might not get hired, or would be prevented from receiving a first paycheck.
Considering there are millions of people in the U.S. without jobs, and considering that a majority of the public supports comprehensive immigration reform, the best way to help solve the current crisis and to avoid all the unnecessary headaches the above bill would cause, is two-fold:
2. Enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship so that all workers are on a level playing field, driving wages up rather than down, and including more workers in the tax system.
These two tasks will increase tax revenue to help the country out of our economic recession, create jobs, and increase quality of life for all people living in the U.S.
Arise Chicago is part of a broad coalition of local, state, and national organizations concerned about the proposed “Legal Workforce Act”. If you are troubled by the negative impact on all workers contact your Representatives in the House expressing your concerns.