One of the most, if not the most, hot-button issues in our country is unemployment. With the national jobless rate at 9.1 percent, or roughly 14 million people out of work, as of the most recent survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fact that nearly 1 out of 10 employable people do not have jobs is a frightening reality. That’s why when the Legal Workforce Act (HR 2885) received approval from the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month, the prospect of more jobs becoming available for destitute Americans seemed like an opportunity not to miss. (The bill would mandate that employers use E-Verify, an electronic employment verification system intended to weed out undocumented workers.)
As U.S. Congressman Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, put it, “When fully implemented, the Legal Workforce Act will open up as many as 7 million jobs now worked by illegal immigrants for Americans.”
If the bill should pass the House, where it sits currently, followed with approval by the Senate, then, when the initiative is fully implemented, millions of Americans can finally obtain the jobs needed to support their families and we can finally rebuild our great nation. On the surface, it appears to be a great idea. Unfortunately, the solution to our economic crisis is not that easy.
To begin with, the Legal Workforce Act isn’t a simple process. Gallegly states that E-Verify is “an easy-to-use, accurate and free Internet-based employee verification system. It will replace the cumbersome and costly I-9 forms that employers now must use to verify the eligibility of an employee to work in the U.S.” But Alex Nowrasteh, policy analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit Libertarian public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government, begged to differ.
In an article for the Huffington Post, Nowrasteh explains that “E-Verify is much more complicated and confusing. Worse, it puts another federal bureaucracy between the employer and employee.” He states that when technology corporation Intel used E-Verify to screen its new hires for 2008, the company reported that success with E-Verify came “only after significant investment of time and money, lost productivity and, for our affected foreign national staff, many hours of confusion, worry, and upset.”
The implementation of E-Verify seems likely only to create more problems for employers and employees, further complicating our economic situation. Moreover, the reality conservative politicians like Gallegly continuously ignore is the kind of jobs that will become available. While it is obvious any job is better than no job, that doesn’t mean Americans will jump on the opportunity to take the jobs that undocumented workers have. For instance, when the United Farm Workers called for Americans to “take our jobs” last June, of the 4,000 that applied, only a few dozen went through the process and a handful accepted the job.
While the construction industry has been hit hardest by the recession, other industries are also feeling the pinch and laying off thousands. These industries include finance (accounting, auditing clerks, bank tellers, etc.), airlines (pilots and flight attendants) and auto (manufacturing, sales). The real question is, will these people jump at the opportunity to work at low-wage, low-skill jobs picking fruit, doing mundane assembly work or washing dishes in restaurants, where many undocumented immigrants work? Our guess is no, not a chance.
It’s time to call a spade a spade. The Workforce Labor Act is nothing more than a guise for a crackdown on illegal immigration, not a realistic solution for employing America. Furthermore, illegal immigrants have continuously carried the burden of being what is wrong with our country, especially in recent times being used as the scapegoat for the crooks on Wall Street who really brought this country to its knees. Legislators need to focus on pragmatic answers to our economic woes rather than just spinning their wheels on useless initiatives.