* Mr. CALVERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about the E-Verify Program and legislation pending in the House. Last weekend California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1236, making it illegal for the state and California municipalities to voluntarily use the E-verify system. This is an outrage.
* Right now, across America, various states and local governments are enacting mandatory E-Verify. Meanwhile, California is going the other way by enacting a ban on voluntary E-Verify, and in fact the Governor is signing laws to preempt the use of E-verify.
* The illegal population looking for work will now head to states that are ignoring the problem and away from states like Arizona and Alabama which have taken a proactive role to fill the vacuum the federal government has left with regard to immigration policy. People will understandably go where they can find work. However, in a state with 12.1% unemployment, we cannot afford the burden on our schools and social services the influx brings. This is why we need a uniform system that ensures ALL workers in America are legal and paying into the system that they are using. That is why I support and am a sponsor of H.R. 2885, the Legal Workforce Act.
* Before I came to Congress, I owned and operated several restaurant businesses. I was required by law to hire a legal workforce but there was no tool available to determine if the identifying documentation presented at the time of employment was fraudulent. When I first created employment verification in 1996, I wanted to build a system that would utilize existing information and processes that was reliable, fair and simple to use.
* At that time, and still today, every employer is required to file an I-9 form based on paper identification documents. My solution was simple: provide employers a way to check that a given name and Social Security number match government records. Today, the E-Verify program has over 268,000 employers representing 900,000 hiring sites. In fiscal year 2011, there have been more than 10.9 million queries run through the system. The Legal Workforce Act would essentially make E-Verify mandatory by requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement a verification process for mandatory employment verification.
* Of the millions of queries run through the computer based E-Verify system, 98.3 percent of employees are instantly verified. Individuals who are given a tentative non-confirmation are given eight business days to contact SSA or DHS regarding their case. Currently one percent of all queried employees choose to contest an E-Verify result and only half of them--point five percent--are successful in contesting that the governments information was incorrect. E-Verify is doing the job it was intended: denying employment to people in the United States not authorized to work.
* E-Verify is ready for mandatory use. The Legal Workforce Act would phase in the mandatory requirement over 24 months for most employers with the exception for agricultural labor which will have 36 months to comply. As a member from an agriculture state, I think it is important to ensure our agriculture community has the labor they need. I support parallel legislation to provide a workable guest worker program that includes the necessary safeguards to ensure that guest workers leave on time. This should be easier to do because with mandatory employment verification guest workers will not be able to secure a legal job in the U.S. after their seasonal work visa expires.
* The Legal Workforce Act also implements worker protections for mismatched Social Security numbers and use of multiple Social Security numbers. The bill also provides good faith exemptions for employers who use the program while increasing the penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
* The Legal Workforce Act is a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to mandatory employment verification and E-Verify is ready to fulfill the obligation. America is ready for mandatory employment verification: employers are required by law to hire a legal workforce, and mandatory E-Verify will ensure that they are complying with the law.
* While the legal name of the current program is ``Basic Pilot Program,'' the effective brand name is E-Verify. Many businesses have incorporated the term ``E-Verify'' into their business and marketing plans. I would strongly suggest that we enshrine the name in law to provide clarity and continuity for businesses currently using E-Verify.
* E-Verify is an extremely effective program and as we've seen from recent actions all over the country, from Arizona to Rhode Island, mandatory employment verification is quickly becoming a reality. As Members of Congress responsible for controlling our borders and enforcing legal employment, let's build upon what works and give the American people what they want: a federal law mandating employment verification.