U.S. Chamber of Commerce Now Supports E-Verify

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce for years has lobbied against E-Verify and has filed numerous lawsuits against the Federal Government and States to stop implementation of E-Verify.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has changed their tune and now supports E-Verify. Why ? The Chamber thought Congress was going to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform “Amnesty.” Granting 11 million plus illegal aliens the right to work, plus import another 20 million foreign workers over the next decade to take American jobs. Accordingly, the Chamber no longer needed millions of cheap illegal workers. If SB 744 passe d the Chamber had 30 million cheap legal workers to drive down wages.

Here are some concerns they expressed about mandatory E-Verify in their congressional testimony followed by our response to their stall tactics and bogus concerns.

Testimony before House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hearing on: How E-Verify Works and How it Benefits American Employers and Workers

Statement of: Randel K. Johnson, Senior Vice President for Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“Today, however, after input from our members, the U.S. Chamber supports E-Verify and the primary purpose of my testimony today is to explain why and under what conditions. The Chamber’s top tier concerns around expansion of E-Verify, and the issues we think need to be addressed prior to any mandatory expansion of E-Verify, are:”

Preemption: The patchwork of state laws and policies that relate to employment verification and E-Verify is a hindrance to the business community, which always places a premium on the certainty of governing rules. This concern was not only from large multistate employers but also expressed by small employers in part because many small employers do business in more than one jurisdiction.

Our Response:

The majority of laws now are a patchwork of laws varying from state to state. Business licensing laws, workman compensation laws, insurance laws, sales tax laws, driving laws, gun laws, criminal law, civil laws, we could go on and on. E-Verify is a Federal program and states must conform to Federal law when mandating employers use E-Verify. Once an employer signs a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Government to use E-Verify they are automatically in compliance in every state that mandates E-Verify. We rate the Chambers preemption concern as bogus.

Reverification: Chamber members were adamant that any expansion of E-Verify could not include running E-Verify queries on each employer’s current workforce – since each E-Verify query requires updated I-9 data.

Our Response:

Federal law mandates that employers only run verification queries on new hires. We agree that queries should only be run on new hires, allowing businesses to transition into a legal labor force. There is no support in congress to change this provision so we rate the Chambers Reverification concern as bogus.

Safe Harbors: Much of the conversation of our members in assessing E-Verify related to the need for safe harbors. It was and remains very important to our members that businesses using subcontractors are not liable for their subcontractors, as under current law, unless the employer knew about the 10 For current and updated information about state action regarding E-Verify, the National Conference of State Legislators http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/immig/state-laws-related-to-immigration-and-immigrants.aspx follows the issue closely.6 subcontractors’ actions. A general contractor is often precluded from taking steps to obtain more knowledge about subcontractors in order to ensure joint employer status is not created.

Our Response:

Our amendment does provide for safe harbor.

Integrating I-9 With E-Verify: Importantly, almost all Task Force members spoke about the value in eliminating the I-9 employment verification form as a separate requirement, and suggested that there be one, single employer obligation regarding employment eligibility verification.

Our Response:

We agree employers using E-Verify should not have the additional burden of keeping paper I-9 verification forms.

Phase-in: Our Task Force discussed various options for rolling out an expansion of E-Verify across the country and the key area of agreement is that there should be a phased process over several years so that not all companies begin using the program at the same time. Critical infrastructure, carefully defined, should go first, and small businesses last.

Our Response:

E-Verify can only be used to verify new hires so there is already a phase in for employers. Why should unemployed American workers be subjected to standing in unemployment lines while businesses continue to violate federal law during a phase in period that the Chamber recommends? We rate the Chambers Phase-in concern simply as a plea to be allowed to continue to violate the law to the detriment of legal workers and legal businesses.

Agriculture: Because of the impact to and importance of national food supply and distribution, it is important to ensure agricultural production employers have meaningful access to a program to sponsor lawful workers before being subject to E-Verify.

Our Response:

There is currently a visa program for agricultural businesses to import legal labor to meet their needs. Many growers choose not to use the visa program because they consider it burdensome and costly. The Ag industry has claimed if they can’t use illegal labor their crops will not get harvested and rot on the ground. Take note that mandatory E-Verify has been enacted in a number of states that have large agricultural interests and they are still thriving. On January 1, 2008 Arizona’s Mandatory E-Verify law went into effect. Mandatory E-Verify doesn’t appear to have harmed Arizona growers.

In 2007, Arizona was seen as a major agricultural state, ranking third in the nation for total value of vegetables, melons and potatoes produced and second in U.S. lettuce production. How will Arizona rank during this most recent census and what can our state’s second largest industry expect in 2013? Don Butler, director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, is cautiously optimistic about 2013, citing several challenges that need to be overcome. “Agriculture is definitely a growing business in Arizona. We estimate it was a $12.4-billion industry in 2011 — that’s up from $10.3 billion in 2008.”

We rate the Chambers national food supply and distribution concerns as bogus and meant to scare the American consumer into believing there will be food shortages and prices will spike.

Read what Dr. Phillip Martin, America’s foremost expert on the cost of farm labor in relation to the cost of fruits and vegetables to American family.

For a typical household, a 40 percent increase in farm labor costs translates into a 3.6 percent increase in retail prices. If farm wages rose 40 percent, and this wage increase were passed on to consumers, average spending on fresh fruits and vegetables would rise about $15 a year, the cost of two movie tickets. However, for a typical seasonal farm worker, a 40 percent wage increase could raise earnings from $10,000 for 1,000 hours of work to $14,000 — lifting the wage above the federal poverty line.

The Chamber made Amnesty one of their top legislative priorities in 2013. Here are several articles how the US Chamber wields its enormous money and power.

The U.S. Chamber led the lobby efforts supporting the Federal E-Verify bill H.R. 2885. Why? The bill had a preemption clause in it that would have nullified all state immigration enforcement laws.

This is one example of how much lobby money they are willing to use to pass or defeat legislation.

H.R.2885: Legal Workforce Act

Lobbying Firm Client Amount
Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A. $10,010,000
AFL-CIO AFL-CIO $920,000
National Retail Federation National Retail Federation $750,000
Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. $730,000
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees $720,000
National Restaurant Association National Restaurant Association $663,000
American Farm Bureau Federation American Farm Bureau Federation $560,000
Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO $250,000