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Lamar Smith’s Anti-immigrant Ideology Trumps the Dangers E-Verify Poses to US Economy

by Mahwish Khan on 09/15/2011 at 2:31pm

Lamar SmithIn the House Judiciary Committee this morning, Rep. Lamar Smith and his Republican chums delivered opening statements in support of mandatory E-Verify at a mark-up for that virulently anti-worker/anti-immigrant piece of legislation that he’s sponsoring. Even though E-Verify would impact all American workers (even U.S. born citizens), Rep. Lamar Smith continues to spin it as the “GOP’s Jobs Plan.” 

The GOP’s “jobs-killing” plan? Yes. The GOP’s plan to document your life in a government database? Yes. The GOP’s plan to deport your neighbor, family member, friend or all of the above? Yes. But the GOP’s Jobs Plan? Not exactly.

Instead, Smith’s ”jobs plan” includes killing approximately 800,000 jobs and costing the US government and businesses billions of dollars.

But these kinds of lies are not atypical of Smith who has a history of distaste for all things immigrant. The Republican Party’s modus operandi is to use catch phrases like “good for jobs” and “good for workers,” while actually pushing for legislation that is anything but. In the real world, this is called being “two-faced;” but in the annals of Congress, it’s business as usual. It’s known as [nasty] politics, and when it comes to the issue of immigration reform, anything goes.

According to La Opinion, E-Verify illustrates how members of the Republican Party will turn against their Party’s values to promote something that is anti-immigrant, even if it’ll have damaging affects on American workers and the US economy. In a piece entitled “Ideology Trumps the Economy”

The Republican Party is characterized by—according to its platform—rejecting excessive government regulation and defending unrestricted freedom for businesses. However, when it comes to the immigration issue, many Republicans become the most loyal defenders of government intervention and bureaucratic regulation.

We will once again witness this show chock-full of contradictions when the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, considers today a measure to make it mandatory for every employer in the country to use the E-Verify database, which supposedly verifies people’s eligibility to work.

There are several things wrong with this idea.

First, E-Verify is plagued with errors. Objections about its effectiveness come from both sides of the political spectrum. Progressive groups point to a research group’s analysis showing that more than 160,000 people per year who are authorized to work will have to visit government offices to correct mistakes, since they appear on the database as “not authorized.” Conservative groups say that the system is not useful to identify undocumented individuals, since almost half of them appear as “authorized to work.” Also, the database does not show whether a particular social security number belongs to that person, only whether or not it exists.

In addition, implementing this system will be expensive. Although it is “free,” it requires businesses to train and hire staff to use it and manage the process, at an annual cost of $2.7 billion. The main ones affected will be small businesses, which could also incur expensive fines for mistakes. Agriculture would be majorly impacted, since at least half of its workers are undocumented.

As far as President Obama is concerned, he has said E-Verify is an important tool, but it should be improved and applied in combination with immigration reform.

Making E-Verify mandatory, as is and without other measures, will negatively impact the business community, many legal workers and the economy. But in Lamar Smith’s world, ideology is more important than the economy.

One final point: Even Republican voters hate it, as illustrated by this ad run in Politico today by conservative business leaders:



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