Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Better Have Your Papers In Order: New Immigration Legislation Targets Millions of US Workers

By all accounts, the failure of the "immigration issue" to deliver at the polls for the Republican Party should have sounded the death knell for any attempts at passing get-tough legislation in Washington before this year's election cycle was over.

With McCain as the presumptive nominee, one would think that down-ticket Republicans wouldn't want to re-hash the "immigration wars" and put their candidate in a position where he would have to once again revisit the issue.

But then again, that would assume that politics is based upon logic and McCain isn't more than willing to even further pander to anti-immigrant sentiment despite his previous record.

Facing the specter of having to run on their accomplishments over the last eight years, nervous Republicans are scrambling for an issue to distract the electorate from their records. With that in mind, The House Immigration Reform Caucus, now under the of leadership Brian Bilbray, an ex- lobbyist for the hate group FAIR, has gone back to beat a dead horse in an attempt to get an election year distraction on the Congressional agenda.

Back in November, Bilbray, with the help of freshman, red-state Democrat, Heath Shuler, introduced the newest incarnation of the House's failed enforcement-only style legislation; The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (“SAVE Act”) of 2007 (H.R. 4088).

Normally, a bill that would put the jobs of over 12.7 million US citizens in direct jeopardy, force a possible 2.5 million a year to be classified as unauthorized to work, criminalize the work of churches and humanitarian groups - mandating penalties up to 5 years imprisonment, and force all local law enforcement to become immigration agents.. all in the name of attrition and deportation.. would be rejected out of hand by Congressional Democrats.

But, thanks to the work of Rahm Emanuel and other quisling Dems, it's moving closer to enactment.

The bill itself is chock full of flaws and outrages.

The right-wing, zero-immigration group, NumbersUSA, rightfully touts the bill as an "Attrition Through Enforcement" effort. According to the group, the bill's goal is to "make it extremely difficult for unauthorized persons to live and work in the United States. (So) they will buy their own bus or plane tickets back home if they can no longer earn a living here".

Yet, reading the bill, it's obvious that its goal goes even beyond ruthlessly trying to "starve" undocumented workers out of the country. It requires local law enforcement to begin the process of mass deportations by requiring them to become immigration agents at every traffic stop and domestic dispute.

But perhaps the most troubling part of the legislation is it's reliance on the DHS's flawed Basic Pilot/E-Verify Electronic Employment Verification system, and the Social Security Administration's error-ridden "No-Match List" to determine whether millions of US workers, many US born citizens, would be eligible to earn a living.

The “SAVE Act” would:

• Require mandatory use and rapid expansion of the Basic Pilot/E-Verify Electronic Employment Verification system for all employers. The “SAVE Act” would require that within 4 years, all employers in the U.S. – approximately 6 million – use Basic Pilot/E-Verify to verify the work authorization of ALL workers – immigrant and U.S. citizen, new hires and the current workforce. Slightly more than 50,000 employers currently voluntarily use Basic Pilot for new hires – less than one percent of all employers; only 4 percent of all new hires are currently verified through Basic Pilot.

A recent independent evaluation of Basic Pilot/E-Verify concluded that employers currently using the system often misuse it, and that the system requires significant improvements before further expansion. The Basic Pilot/E-Verify system relies heavily on the Social Security Administration (SSA) database that, according to government sponsored studies, contains unacceptably high error rates. SSA estimates that 17.8 million of its records contain errors related to name, date of birth, or citizenship status, and 12.7 million of those records relate to U.S. citizens. DHS databases contain similarly high error rates. If the databases are not dramatically improved, the errors in the SSA database alone could result in 2.5 million workers a year being misidentified as unauthorized for employment or as no-matches. Workers, including U.S. citizens, will get caught in this faulty system and will lose their jobs.

The “SAVE Act” contains no assurances that government databases will be accurate and updated, no privacy protections for the vast amounts of personal information to be handled by employers, and no recourse for workers who are wrongfully denied employment. Most importantly, the “SAVE Act” will not prevent unscrupulous employers from avoiding the system by hiring undocumented workers under the table, thereby growing the informal economy.

• Greatly expand the SSA “no-match letter” program. – a program that was halted by a federal judge in 2007. A no-match occurs when the information in the SSA database does not match the information submitted by an employer on the W-2 form. There are many reasons that workers receive a no-match letter that have nothing to do with immigration, including name changes and employer error in entering data. The “SAVE Act” taps the SSA to play an unprecedented role of reporting and cooperating with the DHS by requiring the SSA to notify employers of ALL no-matches and to notify DHS of all unresolved no-matches. Workers who wrongfully receive a no-match letter will have 10 days to resolve the problem, or be fired. A judge recently found that the DHS no-match rule, which gave employers and workers 90 days to fix errors, placed a large burden on employers, and may result in tremendous harm – including loss of employment – for U.S. workers.

• Link the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws. The “SAVE Act” requires SSA to notify all employees in cases where their social security number (SSN) has been reported by two or more employers and requires those workers to prove they are using a valid SSN and are employed by multiple employers simultaneously. This would be tremendously burdensome for the many workers who hold multiple jobs, and would place additional burdens on the already overstretched and underfunded SSA, resulting in delays providing Social Security benefits to the retired and disabled.

The “SAVE Act” also requires SSA to report all unresolved no-matches and multiple use SSNs to the Department of Homeland Security, increasing the amount of personal taxpayer information about workers (including U.S. citizens) that is shared between government agencies, overriding current laws protecting the privacy of taxpayer information.


Who would get caught up in this bureaucratic nightmare:

Why would a worker receive a no-match letter?
According to SSA, there may be several reasons why information submitted for a worker does not match SSA records, including:
  • A typographical or clerical error was made on a W-4 or W-2 form (such as misspelling a name or transposing a number in the SSN)

  • The worker’s name has changed due to marriage or divorce

  • Information provided on the W-4 or W-2 form is incomplete

  • The worker’s middle name was transposed (for example, “David Juan Jimenez” instead of “Juan David Jimenez”).


Back In October, when U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled against the DHS's implementation of it's "No Match Program" for 141,000 social security mismatches, he pointed to the SSA's inability to process the large volume of request the program would require in a timely matter (90 days,) and the number of mistakes in the SSA database as his grounds for preventing the DHS from going forward.

The Save Act not only vastly increases the numbers of workers who would need to correct their information …but cuts the time to accomplish that task down to ten days. Anyone who's every dealt with a government agency, from the Dept of Motor Vehicles to the Internal Revenue Service, knows that accuracy and timeliness are not traits generally attributed to them.

So why would 48 Democratic Representatives sign on to such a flawed piece of toxic legislation?

In one word …Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel has long been advising vulnerable Dems to break with the party, turn their backs on Comprehensive Reform and run with a Republican-lite position on immigration to counter Republican charges of being "soft on immigration." Sources with ties close to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus confirm that Emanuel has been actively lobbying for the bill, and has gone so far as to suggest putting it up along-side the flawed STRIVE Act from last year - ensuring the passage of at least one of the bills before the election.

Emanuel, who fought against the fifty-state strategy that has been so successful in revitalizing the Democratic Party, and told Democrats who didn't take a tough stance on the "third rail" issue of immigration, that they weren't really "with the American people"… is now advising Democrats to sign on to the Republican's last-ditch, Hail-Mary, plan to salvage their faltering electoral prospects with yet another draconian, deportation, immigration bill.

Sometimes one must wonder which side of the aisle Rahm is really on.

Tell your Representative that you want Compressive Reform and not attrition and deportation ... no matter what Rahm Emanuel thinks …Stop the SAVE Act


Anonymous said...

All I can say is, it's about time someone is taking the issue of illegal immigration seriously. The fact that 15-20 million illegal aliens are in the U.S. is unacceptable to most American citizens and if it takes a law like the Save Act to encourage them to go home it will be the first step to a better life for Americans.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"encourage them to go home"?!

Anon, many came here across deserts with no water at risk of life and limb. Do you think they fear having government benefits taken away (that they mostly don't receive) is going to be a greater discouragement than that?

As long as cash exists, so will undocumented labor.

The need for a reality check in statements like yours is almost awe-inspiring. I don't know where you live, but in Texas if, God help us, all the illegal immigrants were to "go home," it would cripple the economy, which otherwise is doing quite well, thank you.

Meanwhile, immigrants commit relatively few crimes, and the real threat on the border comes from multinational criminal smuggling gangs. But Shuler, et. al, are basically SHOVELING money into the cartels' pockets. ... Great plan, Democrats.

Anonymous said...

fokllThat's the point of the Save Act. It will hold the employer responsible to verify their employees are in the country legally. If legal status can not be proven, no job. If a person is unable to obtain a means of support, what choice will they have but to go elsewhere. Remove the "job magnet" and illegal immigration will stop. Deny illegal aliens employment and they will leave.

We educate their children at tax payer expense, they recieve free medical care at at tax payer expense, many recieve some form of government social services at tax payer expense and that's only a short list of the price of illegal aliens.

Greedy businesses that pay illegals below minimum wage are the only people that benefit from a cheap labor force. If illegal aliens were forced out, employers would have to hire American citizens at a fair wage to stay in business. The economy may slip a bit at first, but would bebound as more unempolyed Americans filled the open jobs.

Horace said...

"Anon, many came here across deserts with no water at risk of life and limb. Do you think they fear having government benefits taken away (that they mostly don't receive) is going to be a greater discouragement than that?"

Having no job, no place to stay for months on end can be far more burdensome than a few days in the desert with hope of something better to come. It's nonsense to say that these people will not resort to repatriation, when we've already heard of recent examples of just that. Sorry, gate crashing is an unacceptable means of pursuing the American Dream, just as withdrawing cash from a bank at the point of a gun is an unacceptable means to making a withdrawl. Send them back to Mexico and call the UN to aid Mexico. Mexico's citizens are not our problem.

Porter M. Corn said...

I can't take seriously any comment by a person who prefers to remain "anonymous"

We do not educate their children for free. Without regard to legal status, they pay sales taxes at the state and local level, some of which goes for public education. Part of their rent payments goes for the property tax on the dwelling they inhabit. Most are scared to go to a public health facility unless they have one foot in the grave.

They have State, Federal, Local income taxes deducted from their wages, and even though they would probably get a full refund in addition to EIC, they don't file thus they don't receive the refunds. This "found" money goes into a General Fund to be wasted by our politicians on silly things like auto bailouts etc.

The same holds true for the deductions for Social Security and Medicare. They pay but rarely ever receive the benefit.

Despite what you may believe, illegals and most legal immigrants, are not entitled to any state or federal benefits. Illegals, never, legal immigrants for the first 5 years of residency.