By State Senator Scott Brown
Now that Congress has approved the massive and controversial $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it is crucial that resources be available to make certain that this initiative meets its intended goals. The bill aims to employ out of work Americans through various infrastructure projects such as bridge, road, and public building repairs in each State. To ensure that these jobs are going to properly documented American citizens, there must be a system in place to properly verify the legal status of these workers. Such a system already exists and should be implemented for all projects under the Stimulus Package.
The E-Verify program was established by Congress in 1996, and is headed by a joint partnership of the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. This free of charge Federal program enables employers to verify the legal status and proper documentation from the information that employees have provided.
Companies that do decide to take part in the program simply enter all new employees Social Security numbers and other pertinent information into the E-Verify system. Once this is entered, the program verifies that the individual and prospective new hire matches the identification that they provided. If there is an instance when an individual comes up as “unconfirmed” they then have up to eight days to appeal.
E-Verify works to protect companies from potentially hiring illegal aliens who may have provided falsified documentation of their identity. The program does not mark anyone who comes up as unconfirmed for deportation. It ensures that American jobs are going to legal American citizens.
The E-Verify program is currently being used by more than 113,000 businesses across the country, with over 1,700 businesses in Massachusetts alone. Several states have made it mandatory for all employers to use and a handful of others have made it mandatory for state agencies. This program makes perfect sense to be used on any and all projects involving Stimulus money. Of all the projected jobs that will be created from the $787 billion of tax payer money, none should be given to undocumented illegal aliens. It should be stressed that jobs created from tax-paying Americans, should only go to American citizens who will be able to contribute to the tax base at a time when the national unemployment rate has hit a level of 8.1% as of February of this year.
On March 9th, the House of Representatives voted to make the E-Verify system mandatory for all projects created under the stimulus package. Unfortunately one day later, the U.S. Senate voted down a similar amendment. When it is estimated that over 300,000 construction jobs will be created from Stimulus funded projects, it is unconscionable to think that our Senators in Washington would not implement this system. Instead they left it possible for a portion of the jobs to go to illegal aliens, since there will now be no mandatory system in place to check their proper identification. The Senate missed an opportunity to have the best interest of the American worker at heart by voting down this system that provides job security for those here legally.
We continuously hear of the rhetoric that we as a country need comprehensive immigration reform on all levels. Here is a perfect example of how we can take on this growing problem. The time is now to address the problem of illegal immigration and to make sure that our economy grows enough to benefit the American citizens who are footing the bill for this massive program.
State Senator Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) represents the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District, which includes Needham and precincts B, F and G of Wellesley along with several other communities.