Today, the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement will be holding a hearing entitled, “ICE Worksite Enforcement – Up to the Job?” Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) made the case that more worksite immigration enforcement is necessary in order to protect American workers — an argument which is undoubtedly at the crux of today’s hearing. “While more than 14 million Americans are struggling to find jobs, 7 million illegal workers remain in the U.S. workforce,” stated Smith. “U.S. citizens and legal immigrants should not have to compete with illegal workers for scarce jobs.”
However, while Republicans like Smith have repeatedly made the case that their immigration efforts are guided by a commitment to fighting for the American worker, their voting record on labor issues does not reflect that position in the least bit. America’s Voice recently released a report chronicling the votes of House Judiciary Republicans on several bills that were championed by labor unions and would have gone a long way in improving the lives of all working people. America’s Voice reports:
While House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are now framing their long‐standing policy of expelling millions of immigrants from America as a jobs program, these ratings paint a dramatically different picture of their motivations. They have a long record of voting against the interests of American workers, and an equally long record voting for policies advocated by the anti‐immigrant lobby. [...]
Specifically, House Judiciary Committee Republicans opposed landmark legislation that would raise wages and improve the working conditions of U.S. workers multiple times. For example:
71% Voted Against Increasing the Minimum Wage 100% Voted Against Equal Pay for Women 100% Voted Against Wall Street Reform 100% Voted Against the Employee Free Choice Act 100% Voted Against Foreclosure Relief 94% Voted Against Providing Parental Leave for Federal Employees
The expansion of E-Verify — a federal electronic employment verification program — is one of Smith’s stated goals and will likely be at the center of today’s hearing. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) proposed the system that eventually became E-Verify in 1995. He’s now chairman of the immigration subcommittee and will be overseeing the hearing.
On his website, Gallegly proclaims, “I am focused on the removal of illegal immigrants from the workforce and protecting American jobs for those with a legal right to work in the United States.” However, besides having a pretty abysmal voting record on workers’ issues himself, expanding his prized E-Verify pet project might actually hurt the people he claims to protect.
Last week, I wrote on a report released by the General Accountability Office (GAO) which found that though the program has significantly improved, it still contains some troubling problems including data inaccuracies, and fraud and employer misuse vulnerabilities. Other studies have shown that E-Verify has caused U.S. citizens to be mistakenly identified as undocumented workers while many of those who are ineligible to work may have fallen through the cracks. GAO went as far as to conclude that if E-Verify became mandatory in its current form, “more unscrupulous employers could have the opportunity to hire unauthorized workers without much risk of detection.”