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If Texas really wants to stop illegal immigration, it should pass mandatory E-Verify

By Jim Robb

When President Biden took office, he immediately rolled out the red carpet to illegal immigrants. He issued orders that stopped most illegal crossers from being detained until they could be deported. Potential migrants around the world got the message and have crossed the border illegally in historic and disastrous numbers.

Reports show that Texas has spent $4.4 billion over two years to combat and deal with illegal immigration as Gov. Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick denounce the waves of illegal immigration Texas has experienced under President Biden as an “invasion.”

Yet for all the effort and money spent, neither official has supported the one measure that would dramatically reduce illegal immigration in the Lone Star state — mandatory E-Verify.

E-Verify is the federal online system that allows employers to instantly determine whether new hires are authorized to work in the United States. In order to get a job in this country, an individual needs a Social Security number or other identifier that confirms work authorization. E-Verify simply confirms whether the documentation given by a new employee — information already required in the I-9 form every employee fills out when hired — is genuine and belongs to the person using it.

If the information doesn’t match existing records, E-Verify indicates — usually in a matter of seconds — that there is a problem. This may mean that a person legally allowed to work in the United States forgot to let Social Security know of a name change after marriage or another similar circumstance, easily corrected. Or it may indicate that a person illegally in the United States is trying to gain employment.

When Congress first passed legislation in 1996 under the Clinton administration creating E-Verify, it made the use of this scalable system voluntary for American businesses. In 2009, the Obama administration began requiring federal contractors and their subcontractors to use E-Verify, implementing an executive order issued at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Numerous states already mandate that employers use E-Verify. And many corporations, especially large ones like Apple, Exxon, and General Motors, use E-Verify to keep themselves from accidentally hiring illegal immigrants.

Today, E-Verify is used to check the legal status of more than half of all new hires in the country each year. The problem is that illegal immigrants apply to companies that do not use E-Verify. Unscrupulous businesses won’t use E-Verify unless forced to by either state or federal governments.

Arizona was the first state that required all employers to use E-Verify, a law that was upheld by the Supreme Court. Other states have followed suit, including Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, and Mississippi. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that these states saw substantial reductions in illegal immigrant employment.

Yet for all their frenetic activity to police their borders, Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick have never endorsed an E-Verify law for Texas. Unlike building walls and sending troops, mandating E-Verify would cost the state almost nothing and would turn off the jobs magnet that exists in Texas.

Raised in Texas, Jim Robb is Vice President for Strategies and Data at NumbersUSA, an immigration policy group, and author of Political Migrants: Hispanic Voters on the Move.

1 Comment

  1. Mark Caskey on April 22, 2023 at 6:57 am

    I’ve been advocating E verify for years. That it hasn’t been passed after over 25 years of republican control shows the big donors really want the cheap labor. The governor and Dan Patrick could get it passed but it will never happen.

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