Yesterday, we wrote about a New America Media article noting that the slow flow of immigrants was already negatively impacting California farms. But, we noted that farmers in California and the state’s economy could see things take a turn for the worse if House Republicans have their way and pass E-Verify.
From California’s perspective, one of the worst things about E-Verify is that Republican Congressmen from California actually support it. Over the years, three of them, Representatives Elton Gallegly, Brian Bilbray and Dan Lungren, have been outspoken anti-immigrant members. And, no surprise, all three are sponsoring the E-Verify bill despite the damage it would inflict on their constituents.
Our new report released today from highlights the fact that mandatory E-Verify would impose new burdens on American workers and businesses, devastate California’s agriculture industry, and further the GOP’s political problem with Latino voters.
Among the key report findings:
Bad for Business, Bad for Taxpayers: The new report highlights a range of studies that show that a forced E-Verify program will hurt the economy and will be ineffective.
Example: according to a recent Bloomberg study, making the E-Verify program mandatory would cost small businesses an estimated $2.6 billion to implement. That’s $2.6 billion they have to spend on government regulation, not job creation. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that mandatory E-Verify would cost taxpayers more than $17 billion in lost revenue, as more jobs move into the cash economy. And all this for a program that wouldn’t even work as designed! According to a study from the research corporation Westat, E-Verify identifies undocumented workers run through the system less than half the time. The National Immigration Law Center estimates that up to 421,886 legal workers in California would be unable to work because of E-Verify errors. And foreign-born legal workers (34.9% of California’s workforce)—including naturalized citizens—would be disproportionately harmed by this legislation, as their error rates are twenty times higher than those of native-born workers.
Devastating to California’s Agriculture Industry: The report also makes clear that E-Verify would devastate California’s agriculture industry, which is dependent on undocumented workers. Yet, Gallegly and Lungren want to rid the state and the country of existing and experienced farm workers and replace them through an employer-friendly, worker-unfriendly rehash of the infamous bracero program. If mandatory E-Verify went nationwide, like Reps. Gallegly and Lungren and others really want, it would do for California what Georgia is going through today when they passed E-Verify in the state a month ago. In Georgia, the state’s new anti-immigration law has lead to a labor crisis that is forcing the state to place probationers in the fields to replace the experienced immigrants who are afraid to come to work. Already, food is rotting in the fields and growers are reporting major economic losses. Mandatory E-Verify would not only destabilize the entire agriculture industry, causing farms to close and sending food production overseas, but it would kill a range of related jobs that rely on farm production.
As a matter of fact, each American agriculture job generates three additional jobs upstream or downstream, all of which would be jeopardized by the Gallegly-Lungren-Bilbray bill. That’s some jobs program, Congressmen.
Bad Politics for the California Republican Backers of Forced E-Verify: Separate from the economic burdens and problems of mandatory E-Verify, the report makes it clear that pushing this bill is a political problem for California Republicans as well. A June 2011 poll from Latino Decisions and impreMedia shows that immigration continues to be the top issue for Latino voters, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, beating jobs and the economy by 16 points. And by a 65% to 19% margin, more Latino voters trust Democrats than Republicans on the issue. One only needs to look at the results of the 2010 elections, and the handling of the immigration issue by California Republican candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, for fresh evidence of the GOP’s Latino problem. Yet the California Republican congressional delegation doesn’t seem to be learning its lesson. In fact, of the thirty co-sponsors of the mandatory E-Verify bill, 33% (10/30) are Republicans from California.
Redistricting to Further Entrench GOP’s Latino Problem: With the congressional redistricting process underway, some of the very same California Republicans pushing for mandatory E-Verify are likely to be facing new districts with a higher percentages of Latino and Democratic voters. Gallegly, Lungren, and Bilbray are all likely to have more difficult races – and Latino voters could make the difference. This makes their advocacy for mandatory E-Verify, and refusal to debate common sense measures like AgJOBS and comprehensive immigration reform, all the more confusing.
What is it about these California GOP Congressmen that they would gladly burden small businesses with new costs and regulations, cripple their home state’s agriculture industry, tie up job seekers in mountains of red tape, and remove billions of dollars in revenue from the federal tax coffers – all for a forced E-Verify program that doesn’t even work half the time?
One would assume the answer is politics. But in this case, the politics of this issue are working against the California Republicans. The co-sponsors like Bilbray, Gallegly and Lungren are threatening their own political careers while ensuring that the California Republican Party continues to have problems with Latino voters. That’s their decision, but it’s irresponsible for those three to let their extreme views on immigration and fealty to the flawed E-Verify bill wreak havoc on their state.