Reauthorizing Certain Visa Programs

Floor Speech

By:  Elton Gallegly
Date: Sept. 13, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, S. 3245 extends for three years the authorization of the E-Verify program, the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program. While these are all important programs, I want to speak specifically about E-Verify.

There are currently 23 million Americans who are unemployed or are looking for work. This lack of jobs is causing almost unimaginable hardship for millions of Americans and their families. And each month more people become discouraged and give up even trying to find a job.

Making sure that Americans have every opportunity to find work is more important than ever. One important way to achieve this goal is to reduce the number of jobs that go to illegal immigrants. The E-Verify program helps 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.

The program is currently voluntary for most of the almost 400,000 employers who use it. It is free, Internet-based and easy to use. And the employers who use it agree.

E-Verify has proven to be such an effective tool in preventing the employment of those who are illegally in our country that it should be used by all employers to check the employment eligibility of their new hires. It is the easiest way to help make sure U.S. jobs go to Americans and legal immigrants.

Short of requiring all employers to use E-Verify, at the very least we must ensure that the program remains in place for the 400,000 employers who depend on it. S. 3245 does just that by providing for a 3-year extension. So I urge my colleagues to support the bill.