Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Hearing on E-Verify -- Preserving Jobs for American Workers

Statement

By:  Elton Gallegly
Date: Feb. 10, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Good morning. As most folks on this committee know, I have long said that the way to solve the problem of illegal immigration is fairly simple. First, we must enforce our laws and secure the border. Second, we must remove the magnets that encourage illegal immigration. And finally, we must remove the benefits that make it easy for illegals to stay in this country.

With nearly 14 million unemployed Americans, removing the magnets is more important than ever.

The biggest magnet for illegal immigrants is jobs. So we owe it to the American people to do whatever we can to reduce the number of American jobs going to illegal immigrants. The E-Verify program helps to do just that.

E-Verify allows employers to check the work eligibility of new hires by running the employee's Social Security number or alien identification number against Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.

In 1995, I chaired the Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform. We published a 200-plus page report with more than 80 specific recommendations. One of those was for an electronic employment eligibility verification system, which was included in Chairman Smith's 1996 immigration reform bill. That system is now known as E-Verify.

It is currently a voluntary program for most of the almost 250,000 employers who use it. It's free, Internet-based and very, very easy to use. And the employers who use it agree.

In an October 2010 USCIS Customer Satisfaction Survey, E-Verify received 82 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index scale. The 82 scored by E-Verify is much higher than the federal government's satisfaction index of 69.

And 76% of National Federation for Independent Business members said it would be a minimal or no burden if "there was one telephone number and/or a single Internet website where you could check a new employee's eligibility to work …." That's exactly what E-Verify is.

But I also want to acknowledge that there are two very important components that must exist to help ensure that U.S. jobs go to Americans and legal residents.

First, the federal government must put in place enough enforcement resources to ensure proper use of E-Verify. Employers must have to know that if they misuse the system, for instance by ignoring the fact that the photo in E-Verify does not match the photo on the identity document provided by the employee, they will be investigated and held accountable. Right now there is nowhere near the level of enforcement needed for E-Verify, or for that matter on anything having to do with illegal immigration.

Second, the SSA must work in conjunction with DHS to issue Social Security no-match letters. If the same Social Security number is being queried by employers in several different states at around the same time, the likelihood of fraud is high.

These steps will help E-Verify's continued success.

I look forward to the testimony from our witnesses today.