Statement of Chairman Elton Gallegly

Statement

By:  Elton Gallegly
Date: June 15, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
Hearing on H.R. 2164, the Legal Workforce Act

Good morning. Currently, there are nearly 14 million unemployed Americans. Making sure that they have every opportunity to find work is more important than ever. One way to do that is to reduce the number of jobs that go to people illegally in this country. The E-Verify program will 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. This 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 easy to use. And the employers who use it all agree.

I am pleased to be an original cosponsor of the Legal Workforce Act. The bill mandates that all employers in the Unites States use E-Verify to help make sure their workforce is legal. The result of that will be that jobs are reserved for citizens and legal residents.

The bill requires that employers be notified when they submit one or more mismatched W-2 statements. Once the employer receives the notice, they must use E-Verify to check the employee's work eligibility, and are subject to penalty if they do not then follow the requirements for E-Verify in good faith.

And the Legal Workforce Act requires employees who submit a Social Security number for which there is a pattern of unusual multiple use, to be notified of that use so that the rightful owner can be determined. The employer must then be notified of the unusual use and follow E-Verify procedures for that employee.

Another important change H.R. 2164 makes to the E-Verify process will help alleviate some of the burden on business. Currently an employer is prohibited from using E-Verify until after they have hired the employee. So sometimes they invest time, money and resources into an employee only to have it turn out that the employee is not work eligible. But the Legal Workforce Act allows the employer to make a job offer conditioned on an E-Verify confirmation. This change is simply common sense.

The Legal Workforce Act implements a process whereby employers can help ensure a legal workforce and Americans will have a chance to get every job possible in the U.S.

I look forward to the testimony from our witnesses today.