Good morning. I would like to commend you, Mr. Chairman (Committee Chairman Lamar Smith), for introducing H.R. 2885, the Legal Workforce Act. I am an original cosponsor of this legislation and I wholeheartedly support and look forward to its quick passage.
In my view, this bill, by making the E-Verify employee verification system mandatory, represents the single most important step that Congress can take in significantly diminishing the number of illegal immigrants who enter and work in our country.
Mr. Chairman, there are nearly 14 million unemployed Americans. Making sure that they have every opportunity to find employment is more important today than ever. One way to do that is to reduce the number of jobs that go to illegal immigrants and 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.
Mr. Chairman, 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 your bill, Mr. Chairman, the 1996 immigration reform bill. That system is now known as E-Verify.
It is currently a voluntary program for most of the almost 290,000 employers who use it. It is free, Internet-based and easy to use. And the employers who use it agree.
The bill mandates that all employers in the Unites States use E-Verify to help make sure that the 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 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.
H.R. 2885 will also help alleviate some of the burden on businesses. Currently, an employer is prohibited from using E-Verify until after they have hired the employee. As a result, they sometimes invest time, money and resources into an employee only to discover that the employee is not eligible to work. But the Legal Workforce Act allows the employer to make a job offer conditioned on an E-Verify confirmation. This change is just plain 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.
Again, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for introducing the Legal Workforce Act and I look forward to its passage by this Committee, hopefully next week.