[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT
IMMIGRATION AND BORDER SECURITY
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
MAY 16, 2013
Serial No. 113-11
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
Wisconsin JERROLD NADLER, New York
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina ROBERT C. ``BOBBY'' SCOTT,
LAMAR SMITH, Texas Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama ZOE LOFGREN, California
DARRELL E. ISSA, California SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia STEVE COHEN, Tennessee
STEVE KING, Iowa HENRY C. ``HANK'' JOHNSON, Jr.,
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona Georgia
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas PEDRO R. PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico
JIM JORDAN, Ohio JUDY CHU, California
TED POE, Texas TED DEUTCH, Florida
JASON CHAFFETZ, Utah LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania KAREN BASS, California
TREY GOWDY, South Carolina CEDRIC RICHMOND, Louisiana
MARK AMODEI, Nevada SUZAN DelBENE, Washington
RAUL LABRADOR, Idaho JOE GARCIA, Florida
BLAKE FARENTHOLD, Texas HAKEEM JEFFRIES, New York
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia
RON DeSANTIS, Florida
Shelley Husband, Chief of Staff & General Counsel
Perry Apelbaum, Minority Staff Director & Chief Counsel
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
TREY GOWDY, South Carolina, Chairman
TED POE, Texas, Vice-Chairman
LAMAR SMITH, Texas ZOE LOFGREN, California
STEVE KING, Iowa SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
JIM JORDAN, Ohio LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois
MARK AMODEI, Nevada JOE GARCIA, Florida
RAUL LABRADOR, Idaho PEDRO R. PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina
George Fishman, Chief Counsel
David Shahoulian, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
MAY 16, 2013
H.R. 1772, the ``Legal Workforce Act''........................... 205
The Honorable Trey Gowdy, a Representative in Congress from the
State of South Carolina, and Chairman, Subcommittee on
Immigration and Border Security................................ 1
The Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Texas, and Member, Subcommittee on Immigration and
Border Security................................................ 1
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress from the
State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on
Immigration and Border Security................................ 3
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress
from the State of Michigan, and Ranking Member, Committee on
the Judiciary.................................................. 4
The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Virginia, and Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary 10
Angelo I. Amador, Sr., Vice President, Labor and Workforce
Policy, National Restaurant Association
Oral Testimony................................................. 12
Prepared Statement............................................. 14
Jill G. Blitstein, International Employment Manager, Human
Resources, North Carolina State University
Oral Testimony................................................. 39
Prepared Statement............................................. 42
Julie Myers Wood, President, Compliance, Federal Practice and
Software Solutions, Guidepost Solutions LLC
Oral Testimony................................................. 46
Prepared Statement............................................. 48
Dominick Mondi, Executive Director, New Jersey Nursery and
Oral Testimony................................................. 59
Prepared Statement............................................. 61
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Texas, and Member, Subcommittee
on Immigration and Border Security............................. 6
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative
in Congress from the State of California, and Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security................ 7
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a
Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, and
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary..................... 8
Material submitted by the Honorable Steve King, a Representative
in Congress from the State of Iowa, and Member, Subcommittee on
Immigration and Border Security................................ 80
Material submitted by the Honorable Trey Gowdy, a Representative
in Congress from the State of South Carolina, and Chairman,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security................ 183
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Bob Goodlatte, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia, and
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary........................... 195
Letter from R. Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President, Government
Affairs, Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America... 197
Prepared Statement of the Food Manufacturers' Immigration
Prepared Statement of the American Meat Institute (AMI).......... 199
Letter from James W. Tobin, III, Senior Vice President & Chief
Lobbyist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)......... 204
LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT
THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2013
House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
Committee on the Judiciary
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:16 a.m., in
room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Trey
Gowdy (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Gowdy, Poe, Smith, King, Jordan,
Amodei, Holding, Goodlatte, Lofgren, Jackson Lee, Gutierrez and
Staff Present: (Majority) Andrea Loving, Counsel; Graham
Owens, Clerk; and (Minority) Tom Jawetz, Counsel.
Mr. Gowdy. We will now move to our legislative hearing on
H.R. 1772, the ``Legal Workforce Act.''
The Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security will
come to order. Without objection, the Chair is still authorized
to declare recesses of the Committee at any time.
We welcome all of our witnesses. I will introduce our
witnesses properly here in just a moment, but for now I will
recognize myself for a brief opening statement.
Today this Subcommittee holds legislative hearings on bills
that can, if implemented, substantially affect U.S. Immigration
policy in a positive way. The first hearing is on H.R. 1772,
the ``Legal Workforce Act,'' which requires all U.S. employers
to use E-Verify to verify the work eligibility of their
Because the desire for employment is one of the--if not
the--largest incentives for illegal immigration to the United
States, we must help ensure employers have appropriate and
workable tools to verify a legal workforce.
I know Chairman Goodlatte and past-Chairman Smith and
others have worked tirelessly on this issue, and I am pleased
to yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from Texas,
the past Chairman, Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I very much
appreciate your yielding me your time.
The Legal Workforce Act is bipartisan legislation that
shuts off the jobs magnet attracting illegal immigrants to the
United States. The bill expands the E-Verify system and makes
it mandatory for all U.S. employers. Twenty-three million
Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Meanwhile 7 million
people are working in the United States illegally. These jobs
should go to American citizens and legal workers.
H.R. 1772 could open up millions of jobs for unemployed
Americans by requiring all employers to use E-Verify. The E-
Verify system is quick and effective, confirming 99.7 percent
of work-eligible employees. Recent data shows that
approximately 451,000 American employers voluntarily use E-
Verify, and an average of 1,600 new businesses sign up each
week. The program is free, quick and easy to use. In fact, this
Subcommittee heard testimony in February from the Department of
Homeland Security that E-Verify can now be used by smartphones.
You have to show your Social Security number to visit the
doctor, go to the bank or buy a home. It makes sense that
businesses would use the same identification to ensure they
have a legal workforce by checking the legal status of their
The Legal Workforce Act requires that all U.S. employers
use E-Verify to check the work eligibility of new hires in the
U.S. The verification is phased in depending on the size of the
employer's business; up to 2 years, for example, to provide
additional time for smaller businesses and agriculture.
H.R. 1772 balances immigration enforcement priorities and
legitimate employer concerns. It gives employers a workable
system under which they cannot be held liable if they use the
system in good faith. The bill prevents the patchwork of State
E-Verify laws, but retains the ability of States and localities
to condition business licenses on the use of E-Verify. In
addition, H.R. 1772 allows States to enforce the Federal E-
Verify requirement if the Federal Government fails do so.
The Legal Workforce Act increases penalties on employers
who knowingly violate the requirements of E-Verify, and imposes
criminal penalties on employers and employees who engage in or
facilitate identity theft.
The bill creates a fully electronic employment eligibility
verification system, and it allows employers to voluntarily
check their current workforce if done in a nondiscriminatory
Furthermore, the Legal Workforce Act gives USCIS additional
tools to help prevent identity theft. For example the bill
allows individuals to lock their own Social Security number so
that it cannot be used by imposters to verify work eligibility.
The legislation also allows parents to lock the Social Security
number of their minor child to prevent identity theft, and if a
Social Security number shows unusual multiple uses, the Social
Security Administration locks the number for employment
verification purposes and notifies the owner that their
personal information may be compromised.
Studies by Westat on error rates in the cost of E-Verify
have been mentioned at prior hearings. That study utilized old
data and failed to address the provisions aimed at preventing
identity theft that I mentioned above and which are in the bill
In regard to cost this Subcommittee heard testimony earlier
this year that discredited the study because it amplifies
higher numbers by 25 percent by counting internal promotions
and transfers. Many of these critics fail to point out that
other studies reveal that three-quarters of employers stated
that the cost of using E-Verify is zero.
Equally important, the American people support E-Verify. A
2011 Rasmussen poll found that 82 percent of likely voters
``think businesses should be required to use the Federal
Government's E-Verify system to determine if a potential
employee is in the country legally.''
Unfortunately many States do not enforce their own E-Verify
laws, and others only apply E-Verify in a very limited way. The
Legal Workforce Act will help ensure that employers from every
State are on an equal footing when it comes to hiring
employees. This bill is a commonsense approach to deterring
illegal workers that could open up millions of jobs for
unemployed and underemployed Americans.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentlemen from Texas.
The Chair would now recognize the gentlelady from
California, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Ms.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Few issues have received as much attention before this
Subcommittee in recent years as E-Verify. In the last Congress
we held three hearings on the electronic employment eligibility
verification system, and the Committee marked up the Legal
Workforce Act. In this Congress we have already held one
hearing on E-Verify and will today examine Congressman Smith's
new version of the Legal Workforce Act.
At the outset let me note that the new version of the bill
we are considering today contains several improvements over the
version offered in the last Congress, and I want to recognize
the bill's sponsor for responding to some of the concerns
raised at that time. For instance, when we marked up the Legal
Workforce Act in the 112th Congress, the bill exempted
returning seasonal farm workers from having to be verified upon
hire. This gigantic loophole came under attack from all sides.
From the right it was attacked as amnesty; from the left it was
attacked as an admission that E-Verify alone would destroy our
agricultural industry and the millions of jobs held by U.S.
workers that are supported by that industry. The Committee
struck this provision from the bill during markup, and I am
glad to see it is omitted from this version.
The bill in the last Congress also created new criminal
penalties for unlawful conduct that were excessive and
wasteful. In addition to imposing multiple mandatory minimum
prison terms, the bill made it a felony punishable by up to 15
years in prison for a person to use a Social Security number
that did not belong to him or her during the employment
verification process. Although this version of the bill still
creates one mandatory minimum prison term, it contains a number
of improvements in the criminal provisions pertaining to fraud
and misuse of documents.
And finally this version contains some changes designed to
make E-Verify a little less unworkable for the Social Security
Administration, which obviously serves a number of other
critically important functions.
Having said that, today's bill still contains several of
the greatest flaws of the bill we considered in the last
Congress. It continues to provide no meaningful due process
protections for authorized workers, including U.S. citizens,
who may lose their jobs because of erroneous final
The idea that Americans and authorized immigrants will lose
their jobs as a result of this bill is not simply theoretical.
Although we know that the government continues to work hard to
reduce error rates in E-Verify, errors absolutely still exist.
Under this bill people would lose their jobs and become
effectively unemployable for an indeterminate length of time
because of such government errors, and they would have no
The bill also provides no penalties at all for employers
who violate the requirement that they inform an employee about
a tentative nonconfirmation and give that employee an
opportunity to contest the ETNC. The absence of any consequence
renders the notice requirement completely toothless.
But let me take a step back, because although I welcome the
opportunity to discuss how to discuss how to design an
effective and fair E-Verify system, I believe it is clear that
we can only do that together with other necessary forums to our
broken immigration system.
We could design the best E-Verify system imaginable, a
system that is easy to use, 100 percent accurate, and available
at virtually no cost to big and small businesses alike. But if
we impose that system nationwide and did nothing to fix our
immigration system, the consequences would be disastrous.
I won't belabor the point because the issues are so
familiar to Members of this Subcommittee, and we have witnesses
who are prepared to testify. I will simply say that without
top-to-bottom reform of our immigration laws, expanding E-
Verify would devastate the agricultural economy, resulting in
closed farms, a less secure America, and the mass offshoring of
millions of U.S. jobs, including the upstream and downstream
jobs that are created and supported by our agricultural
Expanding E-Verify without more would also cost the
government significant tax revenues. In 2008, the Congressional
Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded
that mandatory E-Verify in Representative Health Shuler's SAVE
Act would decrease Federal revenues by $17.3 billion over a 10-
year period. Those offices determined that expanding E-Verify
in an economy with this significant undocumented workforce and
no way to provide for a legal workforce would drive employers
and workers off the books and into the underground economy. The
end result would be lost tax revenues and depressed wages and
working conditions for all workers, including U.S. workers.
I believe firmly that E-Verify must play an important role
in helping to fix our immigration system, so I appreciate the
proposal by Representative Smith. I thank Chairman Goodlatte
and Chairman Gowdy for the opportunity to discuss this today. I
think we have further work to do, but I look forward to the
testimony of the witnesses, and I yield back.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentlelady from California.
The Chair would now recognize the gentlemen from Michigan,
the Ranking Member of the full Committee, Mr. Conyers.
Mr. Conyers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This is an important hearing, and we know that everybody's
currently focused on the Senate Judiciary's markup of S. 744,
and that is why we are encouraged by the ongoing efforts by
Members on both sides of the aisle to forge an agreement on an
immigration reform bill in the House. That is why the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO were able to come together to
forge an historic agreement regarding a future temporary
guestworker proposal. It is why all of the major agricultural
producers amazingly, including the American Farm Bureau and
United Farm Workers, joined together to back changes to our
agricultural guestworker program.
So I agree that we must talk about E-Verify because it will
be an important component of comprehensive immigration reform,
but when we do so, we need to recognize the dangers that
American workers would face if we were to make E-Verify
mandatory for all employers without fixing our immigration
system. I think it is important whenever we talk about E-Verify
to talk about the real-world actualities.
Sometimes we hear people say that E-Verify will help
American workers because every time an undocumented immigrant
is denied a job, an unemployed American will get hired. That is
a simple, an appealing proposition, but is probably not
correct. Immigrants often fill critical gaps in our own
workforce. Even in this difficult economy, there are entire
industries that rely upon undocumented immigrants because there
just aren't enough Americans around willing to do the work.
Just look at how mandatory E-Verify would affect
agriculture. Fifty to seventy-five percent of farm workers are
undocumented. Losing these workers would obviously be
devastating. Fruits and vegetables would rot in fields, and
American farms would go under, and we would see a mass
offshoring of jobs, including millions of upstream and
downstream American jobs supported by agriculture.
An earlier witness at a hearing testified that some farms
could survive by shifting to different crops. Now, that is
really one for the books, crops that are not labor intensive.
The majority of all lettuce in this country apparently comes
from one county in California. Lettuce farmers may well be able
to find a different crop to grow, but let us be clear about
what it means. Virtually all our lettuce from now will be
imported from another country. The same is true for tomatoes,
flowers, strawberries. The list goes on and on.
I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses,
and I hope they will comment on some of my observations. We
need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Smith
legislative proposal, and in doing so I hope that they each
take some time to talk about whether they think it would be a
good or bad thing for America and our workers if Congress made
E-Verify mandatory nationwide without simultaneously fixing our
broken immigration system.
So we talk about, I conclude, comprehensive reform: One, 11
million people on the path to an earned legal status; two, and
most importantly, modernizing the flow of future immigrants so
it works for both businesses and families; and three, improved
enforcement, including E-Verify, but not on its own.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman for allowing my statement.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentleman from Michigan.
Without objection, all the Members' opening statements will
be made part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in
Congress from the State of Texas, and Member, Subcommittee on
Immigration and Border Security
The Legal Workforceq Act is bipartisan legislation that shuts off
the jobs magnet attracting illegal immigrants to the United States. The
bill expands the E-Verify system and makes it mandatory for all U.S.
Twenty-three million Americans are unemployed or under employed.
Meanwhile, seven million people are working in the United States
illegally. These jobs should go to American citizens and legal workers.
H.R. 1772 could open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans
by requiring all employers to use E-Verify. The E-Verify system is
quick and effective, confirming 99.7% of work-eligible employees.
Recent data shows that approximately 451,000 American employers
voluntarily use E-Verify and an average of 1,600 new businesses sign up
The program is free, quick and easy to use. In fact, this
subcommittee heard testimony in February from the Department of
Homeland Security that E-Verify can now be used via smart phones.
You have to show your Social Security Number to visit the doctor,
go to the bank, or buy a home. It makes sense that businesses would use
the same identification to ensure they have a legal workforce by
checking the legal status of their employees.
The Legal Workforce Act requires that all U.S. employers use E-
Verify to check the work eligibility of new hires in the U.S. The
verification is phased-in depending on the size of the employer's
business--up to two years to provide additional time for smaller
businesses and agriculture.
H.R. 1772 balances immigration enforcement priorities and
legitimate employer concerns. It gives employers a workable system
under which they cannot be held liable if they use the system in good
The bill prevents a patchwork of State E-Verify laws but retains
the ability of states and localities to condition business licenses on
the use of E-Verify. In addition, H.R. 1772 allows states to enforce
the federal E-Verify requirement if the federal government fails to do
The Legal Workforce Act increases penalties on employers who
knowingly violate the requirements of E-Verify and imposes criminal
penalties on employers and employees who engage in or facilitate
identity theft. The bill creates a fully electronic employment
eligibility verification system. And it allows employers to voluntarily
check their current workforce if done in a non-discriminatory manner.
Furthermore, the Legal Workforce Act gives USCIS additional tools
to help prevent identity theft. For example, the bill allows
individuals to lock their own Social Security Number so that it cannot
be used by imposters to verify work eligibility. The legislation also
allows parents to lock the Social Security Number of their minor child
to prevent identity theft. And if a Social Security Number shows
unusual multiple uses, the Social Security Administration locks the
number for employment verification purposes and notifies the owner that
their personal information may be compromised.
Studies by Westat on error rates and the cost of E-Verify have been
mentioned at prior hearings. That study utilized old data and failed to
address the provisions aimed at preventing identity theft that I
mentioned above and which are in the bill today. In regard to cost,
this subcommittee heard testimony earlier this year that discredited
the study because it amplifies hire numbers by 25% by counting internal
promotions and transfers. Many of these critics fail to point out that
other studies reveal that three-quarters of employers stated the cost
of using E-Verify is zero ($0).
Equally important, the American people support E-Verify. A 2011
Rasmussen poll found that 82% of likely voters ``think businesses
should be required to use the federal government's E-Verify system to
determine if a potential employee is in the country legally.''
Unfortunately, many states do not enforce their own E-Verify laws
and others only apply E-Verify in a very limited way. The Legal
Workforce Act will help ensure that employers from every state are on
equal footing when it comes to hiring employees.
This bill is a common sense approach to deterring illegal workers
that could open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Lofgren follows]:
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee
on Immigration and Border Security
Few issues have received as much attention before this Subcommittee
in recent years as E-Verify. Last Congress we held three hearings on
the electronic employment eligibility verification system and the
Committee marked up the Legal Workforce Act. In this Congress we have
already held one hearing on E-Verify and will today examine Rep.
Smith's new version of the Legal Workforce Act.
At the outset, let me note that the version of the bill we are
considering today contains several improvements over the version
offered in the last Congress and I want to recognize the bill's sponsor
for responding to some of the concerns raised at that time.
For instance, when we marked up the Legal Workforce Act in the
112th Congress, the bill exempted returning seasonal farmworkers from
having to be verified upon hire. This giant loophole came under attack
from all sides. From the right, it was attacked as amnesty and from the
left it was attacked as an admission that E-Verify alone would destroy
our agricultural industry and the millions of jobs held by U.S. workers
that are supported by that industry. The Committee struck this
provision from the bill during markup and I am glad to see it is
omitted from this version.
The bill in the last Congress also created new criminal penalties
for unlawful conduct that were both excessive and wasteful. In addition
to imposing multiple mandatory minimum prison terms, the bill made it a
felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison for a person to use a
social security number that did not belong to him or her during the
employment verification process. Although this version of the bill
still creates one mandatory minimum prison term, it contains a number
of improvements to the criminal provisions pertaining to fraud and
misuse of documents.
Finally, this version contains some changes designed to make E-
Verify a bit less workable for the Social Security Administration,
which obviously serves a number of other critically important function.
Having said that, today's bill still contains several of the
greatest flaws of the bill we considered in the last Congress.
It continues to provide no meaningful due process protections for
authorized workers--including U.S. citizens--who lose their jobs
because of erroneous final non-confirmations. The idea that Americans
and authorized immigrants will lose their jobs as a result of this bill
is not simply theoretical. Although we know that the government
continues to work hard to reduce error rates in E-Verify, errors
absolutely still exist. Under this bill, people would lose their jobs
and become effectively unemployable for an indeterminate length of time
because of such government errors and they would have no meaningful
The bill also provides no penalties at all for employers who
violate the requirement that they inform an employee about a tentative
nonconfirmation and give that employee an opportunity to contest the
TNC. The absence of any consequences renders the notice requirement
But let me take a step back, because although I welcome the
opportunity to discuss how to design an effective and fair E-Verify
system, I believe it is clear that we can only do that together with
other necessary reforms to our broken immigration system. We could
design the best E-Verify system imaginable--a system that is easy to
use, 100% accurate, and available at virtually no cost to big and small
businesses alike. But if we imposed that system nationwide and did
nothing to fix our broken immigration system the consequences would be
I will not belabor the point, because the issues are already so
familiar to Members of this Subcommittee and we have witnesses who are
prepared to testify. I will say simply that without top-to-bottom
reform of our immigration laws, expanding E-Verify would devastate the
agricultural economy, resulting in closed farms, a less-secure America,
and the mass off-shoring of millions and millions of U.S. jobs,
including all of the upstream and downstream jobs that are created and
supported by our agriculture industry.
Expanding E-Verify without more would also cost the government
significant tax revenues. In 2008, the Congressional Budget Office and
the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded that mandatory E-Verify in
Rep. Heath Shuler's SAVE Act would decrease federal revenues by $17.3
billion over a 10-year period. Those offices determined that expanding
E-Verify to an economy with a significant undocumented workforce would
drive employers and workers off-the-books and into the underground
The end result would be lost tax revenues and depressed wages and
working conditions for all workers, including U.S. workers.
I believe firmly that E-Verify must play an important role in
helping to fix our immigration system, so I appreciate the proposal by
Rep. Smith and I thank Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Gowdy for the
opportunity to discuss this today.
I look forward to the testimony of the witnesses.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Conyers follows:]
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative
in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Ranking Member, Committee
on the Judiciary
At the Judiciary Committee's first hearing in this Congress, we
discussed opportunities for legal immigration as well as enforcement of
the law against undocumented immigrants. It became clear early on that
pretty much everyone on the Committee agreed that our immigration
system is broken.
So what can we do to fix it? For years, some people have argued
that we only need to enforce the laws that are on the books. Last
Congress, we spent more time talking only about expanding E-Verify--
three hearings and a Committee markup--than we spent on any other
topic. Already in this Congress we have held one hearing on E-Verify,
so today's hearing makes it two.
Based on everything I have heard, I am hopeful that we have begun
to turn the corner. I believe there is genuine interest in Congress
from Members on both sides of the aisle to help us achieve a real
solution to our broken immigration system and I look forward to working
with Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Gowdy to get the job done.
So what does a real solution look like? For starters, it means we
cannot return to proposals that rely solely upon enforcement of our
broken system. Let me be clear. No one argues that we should stop
enforcing our immigration laws. But enforcement without reform will
promote a race to the bottom that only hurts the American worker. If we
fix our broken immigration system, however, we can help American
workers and grow our economy.
That is why everyone right now is focused on the Senate Judiciary
Committee's markup of S. 744, the ``Border Security, Economic
Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.'' And that is why
everyone is encouraged by the ongoing efforts by Members on both sides
of the aisle to forge an agreement on an immigration reform bill in the
That is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO were able
to come together to forge an historic agreement regarding a future
temporary guestworker proposal.
That is why all of the major agricultural producers--including the
American Farm Bureau--and the United Farmworkers joined together to
back changes to our agricultural guestworker programs.
So I agree that we must talk about E-Verify, because it will be an
important component of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. But when we do
so we need to recognize the dangers that American workers would face if
we were to make E-Verify mandatory for all employers without also
fixing our immigration system.
I think it is important whenever we talk about E-Verify to talk
about the real world. Sometimes we hear people say that E-Verify will
help American workers because every time an undocumented immigrant is
denied a job, an unemployed American can get hired. That is a pretty
simple proposition and I see how appealing it is.
The problem, of course, is that it is completely false. Immigrants
often fill critical gaps in our own workforce. Even in this difficult
economy, there are entire industries that rely upon undocumented
immigrants because there just are not enough Americans willing to do
Just look at how mandatory E-Verify would affect agriculture. 50 to
75% of farm workers are undocumented. Losing those workers would be
devastating. Fruits and vegetables would rot in the fields and American
farms would go under. And we would see a mass off-shoring of jobs,
including the millions of upstream and downstream American jobs
supported by agriculture.
One witness testified at a hearing earlier this year that some
farms could survive by shifting to different crops. Crops that are not
as labor-intensive. But my friend Mr. Darryl Issa explained the
problems with that answer.
The majority of all lettuce in this country apparently comes from
one county in California. Lettuce farmers may well be able to find a
different crop to grow, but let's be clear about what that means.
Virtually all of our lettuce from now will be imported from another
country. The same is true for tomatoes, flowers, strawberries. The list
goes on and on.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses, because we need to
understand the strengths and weaknesses of Rep. Smith's legislative
proposal. But in doing so, I hope they each take some time to talk
about whether they think it would be a good or a bad thing for America
and American workers if Congress made E-Verify mandatory nationwide
without simultaneously fixing our broken immigration system.
Mr. Gowdy. We have a distinguished panel of witnesses for
which we are all grateful. I will begin by swearing you in, and
then I will introduce you en bloc, and then we will recognize
each of you for your 5-minute opening statement.
If you would please stand.
Mr. Gowdy. Let the record reflect all witnesses answered in
the affirmative. You may be seated.
It is my pleasure to begin by introducing Mr. Angelo
Amador. Mr. Amador is vice president of labor and workforce
policy with the National Restaurant Association. He advocates
on behalf of the National Restaurant Association and its
members before the U.S. Congress and the executive branch.
Prior to joining the NRA, Mr. Amador served as the executive
director in labor, immigration, employment benefits division of
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and was an adjunct professor of law
at George Mason University School of Law. He is a graduate
Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of
Maryland and obtained a master of arts in international
transactions from George Mason University. He earned his J.D.
From George Mason University School of Law, graduating cum
Welcome, Mr. Amador.
Ms. Jill Blitstein is testifying today on behalf of the
College and University Professional Association for Human
Resources. She is currently the international employment
manager at North Carolina State University. Her current
position involves assisting departments, faculty, and staff
with immigration and visa issues, and overseeing the employment
eligibility verification process and compliance procedures at
NC State University.
Prior to joining NC State, she was a senior associate at
the Chicago office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy--and I
apologize to your former partners if I messed that up, I am
sure I did--from 1997 to 2007. Ms. Blitstein received her law
degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1995. I would
also like to note that she is a constituent of one of our
Subcommittee's Members, the former distinguished U.S. attorney
from whichever district that is in North Carolina, Mr. George
Holding. Welcome, Ms. Blitstein.
Julie Myers Wood is president of compliance, Federal
practice and software solutions at Guidepost Solutions, LLC, an
immigration investigation and compliance firm. She served as
the Assistant Secretary of DHS Immigration and Customs
Enforcement for nearly 3 years. Under her leadership the agency
set new enforcement records with respect to immigration
enforcement, export enforcement, and intellectual property
rights. She earned a bachelor's degree and, along with Brittney
Griner, is probably the most famous graduate of Baylor
University that I can think of; and earned a J.D. Cum laude
from Cornell Law School. Welcome, Ms. Wood.
Mr. Dominick Mondi is executive director of the New Jersey
Nursery and Landscaping Association, a trade group representing
horticulture industry in the State. Prior to joining the staff,
he served on the board of directors of the organization, first
of all working for a landscape design/build contractor, Doerler
Landscapes, and later while running his own landscape design
firm, Mondi Designs. Mr. Mondi serves on the advisory council
for landscape industry program at Rutgers University, where he
also graduated with a degree in landscape architecture.
I will, now that I have hopefully sufficiently introduced
all of you, ask you to indulge me while I recognize our
Chairman for his opening statement, and then I promise we will
go to you for your opening statement.
The gentleman from Virginia, the Chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, Mr. Goodlatte.
Mr. Goodlatte. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize for
being late, and I do have a great interest in this issue and
the hearing and our witnesses, so I apologize to them, but I
did want to give my opening statement.
I want to thank you and Congressman Smith for your hard
work on this legislation.
The future of immigration reform hinges on assuring the
American people that our immigration laws will be enforced. In
the past Americans were promised tougher enforcement in
exchange for the legalization of those unlawfully in the U.S.
Succeeding Administrations never kept these promises, and today
we are left with a broken immigration system.
One way to make sure we discourage illegal immigration in
the future is to prevent unlawful immigrants from getting jobs
in the U.S. Requiring the use of E-Verify by all employers
across the country will help do just that. The Web-based
program is a reliable and fast way for employers to
electronically check the work eligibility of newly hired
employees. H.R. 1772, the ``Legal Workforce Act,'' builds on E-
verify's success and helps ensure the strong enforcement that
was promised to the American people many years ago.
The Legal Workforce Act doesn't simply leave enforcement up
to the Federal Government; in fact, it actually empowers States
to help enforce the law, ensuring that we don't continue the
enforcement mistakes of the past where a President can turn off
Federal enforcement efforts unilaterally.
Over 450,000 employers are currently signed up to use E-
Verify. It is easy for employers to use and is effective. In
fact, as USCIS testified in front of this Committee this past
February, E-Verify's accuracy rate for confirmation of work
eligibility is 99.7 percent.
But the system is not perfect. For instance, in cases of
identity theft, when an individual submits stolen identity
documents and information, E-Verify may confirm the work
eligibility of that individual. This happens because E-Verify
uses a Social Security number or alien identification number
and certain other corresponding identifying information, such
as the name and date of birth of an individual, to determine if
the Social Security number or alien identification number
associated with that corresponding information is work
eligible. Thus, if an individual uses a stolen Social Security
number, and the real name corresponding with that Social
Security number, a false positive could occur.
The Legal Workforce Act addresses identity theft in several
ways. First, it requires notification to employees who submit
for E-Verify a Social Security number that shows a pattern of
unusual multiple use so the rightful owner of the Social
Security number will know that their Social Security number may
have been compromised, and once they confirm this, the
Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security
Administration must lock that Social Security number so no one
else can use it for employment-eligibility purposes.
The bill also creates a program through which parents or
legal guardians can lock the Social Security numbers of their
minor children for work-eligibility purposes. This is to combat
the rise in the number of thefts of children's identities.
But there are other changes that should also be made. For
instance, in order to help prevent identity theft, the USCIS
created and utilizes the photo match tool in which photos from
green cards, work authorization documents and passports can be
seen during the use of E-Verify in order to help ensure that
the person submitting the identity document is, in fact, the
person who owns that document. But I recently learned that
USCIS materials regarding the use of E-Verify specifically
state that a photo displayed in E-Verify should be compared
with the photo in the document that the employee has presented
and not with the face of the employee. What good is the photo
match tool to prevent identity theft if the employer is
prohibited from matching the photos to the person submitting
the identity document? This policy is ludicrous, and we will
look to address it as this legislation moves forward.
The bill also phases in E-Verify use in 6-month increments
beginning with the largest U.S. businesses, raises penalties
for employers who don't use E-Verify according to the
requirements, allows employers to use E-Verify prior to the
date they hired an employee, and provides meaningful safe
harbors for employers who use the system in good faith.
H.R. 1772 balances the needs of the American people
regarding immigration enforcement with the needs of the
business community regarding a fair and workable electronic
employment verification system.
I want to continue to work with the business community and
other stakeholders to address any additional concerns with the
bill. And I am pleased to be an original cosponsor and look
forward to the testimony of the witnesses today.
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you former Chairman
Smith and all who have worked on this legislation, and I yield
back the balance of my time.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentlemen from Virginia.
Each of our witnesses' written statements will be entered
into the record in its entirety, so I would therefore ask that
you summarize your statement within 5 minutes so we can have
the benefit of the answers to your questions as well in a
timely fashion. To help you stay within that 5-minute time
parameter, there is a lighting system in front of you, and the
lights mean what they traditionally mean in life: Green is go,
yellow means you have a minute left, and red means if you could
conclude your thought with all deliberate speed, that would be
So with that we would welcome all of you again, and, Mr.
Amador, we will start with you for your opening statement.
TESTIMONY OF ANGELO I. AMADOR, SR., VICE PRESIDENT, LABOR AND
WORKFORCE POLICY, NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION
Mr. Amador. Thank you. My opening statement, I have
prepared oral remarks, but after listening to all of you, I am
going to try to take less than my 5 minutes and just address a
couple of things.
For over a decade, you know, I have been working with your
staff, and with then-Chairman Jackson Lee, and Chairman Smith,
Chairman Sensenbrenner, Nolan Rappaport, who was the staffer.
George Fishman would remember all these people. A lot of
staffers have changed. But we have all worked on an
unemployment verification title. So the question, there is
really only one issue.
I also want to, before I begin, say that I am honored to be
here before Mr. Pierluisi, who may not remember me, but I
started my career in D.C. working indirectly under him in his
days as attorney general, so it is an honor to be here.
I will use my time instead to say that the only question
that seems to be before the Committee and before Congress is
whether we should consider an employment verification system
being made mandatory by itself, or should it be considered as
part of a comprehensive immigration reform package?
When I look at it, you know, and we support pieces of
immigration because what we want is our immigration system to
be fixed. So just like we supported DACA, which is the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals, we support the Legal Workforce
Act. And the reason is that in the over decade that I have been
working on programs and unemployment verification, with
staffers on both sides and with chairmanships from both
parties, this is by far the best employment verification
mandate that I have seen from the days of the Daschle-Hagel
bill in the Senate to the Gang of 8 now.
So what I would say to the Committee, and that is if you
don't take anything from the my written testimony and by the
testimony of others, is that it is upon you to look at
employment verification title and see if you can improve it.
And I think that by viewing it by itself, we have had the
benefit to be able to negotiate and to look at different pieces
without the disruption of talking about a guestworker program,
which is also very complicated legalization and all the pieces.
But it is imperative that we look at the employment
verification title by itself.
And again, the only point I want to make is that from all
the bills that I have been able to submit comments and analyze,
the Legal Workforce Act is not perfect, but I have not seen any
perfect law yet, but is by far the best employment verification
mandate. It is simple; it makes accommodations for small
businesses, which is something that we have been asking for for
years; and it creates one set of rules that would be across the
Nation for all employers.
And even though, you know, we talk about 11 million on
legalization as one important piece, I would say that this is
just as important. This would affect 6 million employers, and
this would affect how 160 million people get verified to get
work authorizations. So it is very, very important that these
pieces get right, and, in our opinion, this is the best
starting point moving forward.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you, Mr. Amador.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Amador follows:]
Mr. Gowdy. Ms. Blitstein.
TESTIMONY OF JILL G. BLITSTEIN, INTERNATIONAL EMPLOYMENT
MANAGER, HUMAN RESOURCES, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
Ms. Blitstein. Chairman Gowdy, Ranking Member Lofgren, and
honorable Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this
opportunity to appear before you today to express support for
the Legal Workforce Act. I am the international employment
manager at North Carolina State University. NC State is an
active member of the College and University Professional
Association for Human Resources. CUPA-HR represents more than
1,900 institutions of higher education, 44 percent of which are
public. I am speaking today on behalf of CUPA-HR.
My institution has been using E-Verify since January 1 of
2007, when it was mandated by the State of North Carolina for
all public employers and the university system. I have
responsibility for the institution's I-9 and E-Verify process.
With more than 8,000 regular employees and almost 8,000
more student workers and temporary employees during the
academic year, including many foreign nationals, NC State's use
of the E-Verify process is substantial. I speak to you today as
someone who has experienced the positive effects of this
program and found most aspects of it to be administratively
manageable, as well as someone who might offer some informed
suggestions as to its implementation by other employers.
CUPA-HR supports the majority of provisions within the act
as being positive for both employers and employees. For
example, we support the reduction in the number of documents
acceptable to prove identity and work authorization, we support
recognition of good-faith compliance, and we especially support
the act's clear preemption of any State or local law on
NC State has not experienced the worst-case E-Verify
scenarios that were circulating several years ago, and in the 6
years that we have been managing this process, we experienced
only a handful of cases in which a new hire could not present
valid documentation or be cleared through the E-Verify process.
So we believe that process works as intended.
That said, based on our direct experience, we do have some
concerns about the proposed time frames for compliance. The act
would require that within 6 months, all Federal, State and
local government employers must reverify the employment
eligibility of all current employees not already in the E-
Verify system. Having verified the entire workforce at NC State
University, I can tell you with confidence that this is an
unrealistic time frame to achieve full compliance for large
Executive Order 12989, as amended in 2008, required Federal
contractors with contracts containing Federal acquisition
regulation, or FAR, language to use E-Verify to confirm the
eligibility of employees working under that contract. NC State
is a Federal contractor, and we received our first of many of
FAR contracts in September of 2009. We quickly realized that
verifying individuals coming and going on FAR contracts could
be impractical, so we selected the only other alternative, to
verify our entire workforce, for us meaning every active
employee hired before January 1st of 2007.
We had a 6-month time frame to enter 12,000 I-9s into E-
Verify. It actually took us 7 months to fully accomplish this
goal even after hiring temporary staff. The time and effort by
my office, my boss and others was significant to achieve
compliance for 12,000 employees. It was an incredibly intense
effort, and we have now invested in an electronic system to
help us manage that process.
CUPA-HR would strongly encourage a longer phased roll-out
compliance timeline, particularly for large public employers,
of 24 months. Additionally, CUPA-HR suggests a longer
reverification period for employees with limited work
authorization. The act would require reverification of such
employees, including many foreign nationals, during 3 business
days preceding the expiration of their current work
authorization. As an employer with over 3,000 foreign nationals
a year on payroll, it is not practical for us to reverify all
of them within the 3 business days before their authorization
expires. CUPA-HR supports a reverification time frame of 30
Our spring semester just ended at NC State, and the number
of foreign nationals with May expiration dates is in the
hundreds. A 3-business-day reverification period not practical
for employers like us with large numbers of individuals whose
expiration dates may converge around the same time.
In closing, I would say that the Legal Workforce Act is a
balanced approach to creating a more secure and flexible
employment-eligibility verification system. We respectfully
encourage the Subcommittee to consider the suggestions we have
offered today, and I personally thank the Members of the
Subcommittee for the opportunity to testify.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you, Ms. Blitstein.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Blitstein follows:]
Mr. Gowdy. Ms. Wood.
TESTIMONY OF JULIE MYERS WOOD, PRESIDENT, COMPLIANCE, FEDERAL
PRACTICE AND SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS, GUIDEPOST SOLUTIONS LLC
Ms. Wood. Thank you, Subcommittee Chairman Gowdy, Ranking
Member Lofgren, Members of the Subcommittee. It is great to be
before you again, and I appreciate the opportunity to testify
about H.R. 1772, the ``Legal Workforce Act.''
As all of you have already stated, these challenges are not
new. The government has not succeeded in effectively reducing
the magnet of unlawful employment. Whether we are working to do
this through civil audits or criminal investigations, the
government has not found the right mechanisms to compel
widespread compliance with immigration laws.
In my view, in attempting to effectively address the magnet
of unauthorized employment, employers have been unfairly
saddled with the significant burden related to interior
enforcement of our immigration laws. I think that the Legal
Workforce Act takes some very positive steps to equitably
address these burdens and provide additional tools to
employers, while ensuring that we will make some progress in
reducing this magnet.
I want to highlight just a couple areas where I think the
bill does an excellent job, and those where--areas where this
bill may differ a little bit from the bill pending now in the
First, the bill levels the playing field by requiring
mandatory employment verification, and does so smartly by
building on the existing E-Verify framework. It is not
requiring the creation of a new framework; it is building on
and using an existing tool. Although a sizable number of
industry leaders are on E-Verify, and more joining every day,
in many industries E-Verify participation is still the
exception rather than the rule. What I often hear from
employers, particularly in high-risk industries, is that they
go on E-Verify, but their competitors do not, and that their
competitors continue to engage in high-risk hiring practices,
undermining the market. This must change.
Second, and I think a very critical point, is this bill
reduces the burden on employers by combining the duplicative
form I-9 and E-Verify process into one single process. For
employers this current duplication is particularly problematic
because they can be fined based on errors in their I-9s even
though their employees were found to be employment authorized
through the E-Verify system. An example of such error includes
a failure of an employee to check a box indicating the
employee's status even when the employer recorded the
appropriate documents and the employee went through the E-
Verify system successfully. And even when employers are allowed
to correct these paperwork errors, they are still spending a
lot of time and often money to make a piece of paper neat and
technically accurate for the regulators. Such a focus on the
technical side of the I-9 really defeats the purpose, and the
purpose is to ensure that employees are authorized to work.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges that employers face
is that the E-Verify system does not have a fool-proof way to
address identity theft. The system's Achilles' heel remains its
reliance on and limitations on the information that is input
into the system. If an employer is unable to confirm that the
identity documents presented actually belong to the individual
who presented them, then what value is there to the employment-
authorized determination? It is merely confirming the
authorization of the data entered.
Even though USCIS has made considerable progress, and
despite their efforts in this area, absent a stronger identity
tool tied to E-Verify, employers have been left to serve as
document detectives. The good news, and I think the good news
that this bill recognizes, is that there are ways to improve
the current system, and there are many models for the pilot
proposed by section 12.
One system that I think really addresses this is the
software system I actually helped develop called SecureID. This
system leverages public-sector data and other information to
provide real-time algorithms and consistent screening for our
employees in conjunction with the I-9 and E-Verify. It also has
a lot of protections or exception processes to make sure that
we represent adequately and take care of the rights of asylees
and new immigrants.
The SecureID system avoids the problem of making rank-and-
file HR managers be identity investigators, who, in their well-
intentioned efforts to promote a legal workforce, only ask
certain new hires lots of questions because their English isn't
great, or they are presenting certain documents. That is simply
unacceptable. Tools like the SecureID system have proven to be
extremely effective for employees who have faced significant
identity-fraud problems, and something like this could be used
in a pilot as proposed in section 12.
One of the ways that our tool is being used right now, for
example, is for managers who are trying to figure out how do
they address employees who come in through the DACA process.
These are people who have now changed their name, and they said
they have adjusted under DACA. The employees' employers are
trying to decide how do we do that in a fair and consistent
way, because last time we were fooled, right? Last time we
thought they were authorized, but they weren't. And so by using
a tool like this, using knowledge-based authentications, you
can really do this in an effective way.
Employers have also used a system like this to address
third-party notification, such as when an insurance company
calls you up and says, hey, this person you think is John Doe
is actually not John Doe. Employers are facing how do we do
this and how do we address this in an appropriate and
nondiscriminatory manner. There are many tools like this in the
private sector, and I encourage and applaud the work done in
the Legal Workforce Act to look and see how can we push E-
Verify further and really address the problems of identity
Effective employment verification is critical to reducing
the magnet of unlawful employment and restoring integrity to
our immigration laws. I think the Legal Workforce Act takes
some positive steps, and I agree with my counterparts that it
is the best bill we have seen on this to address this
I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you and
would be glad to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you, Ms. Wood.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Wood follows:]
Mr. Gowdy. Mr. Mondi.
TESTIMONY OF DOMINICK MONDI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW JERSEY
NURSERY AND LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATION
Mr. Mondi. Thank you. Good morning, Chairman Gowdy, Ranking
Member Lofgren, and honorable Members of the Subcommittee.
Thank you for the opportunity to come to Washington today to
discuss this very important topic of immigration reform, E-
Verify and the Legal Workforce Act.
With this renewed debate, Congress now has a chance to
repair our broken immigration system with legislation that
addresses border security and employment verification, earned
legalization, programs for future legal immigration, and
As for the E-Verify piece, no one has more to gain from the
implementation and enforcement of an improved employment-
eligibility verification system than the honest small
businessmen and -women who are trying to compete on a level
playing field. Good business owners don't look to the
government to create competitive advantages, of course, but
rather to provide that level playing field, and a
comprehensively reformed immigration system can help achieve
Unfortunately, the implementation of E-Verify in a vacuum
outside the context of a comprehensive immigration package will
have the unintended consequence of pushing more labor to the
black market, increasing staffing burdens, and ultimately
hurting the thousands of small businesses in the nursery,
landscape and like-minded service industries. This is not what
we need out of immigration reform.
While we certainly don't defend the use of unauthorized
workers knowingly or unknowingly, there is a reality that a
large part of this workforce has been trained and has advanced,
contributing their skills and talents to the good employers and
businesses who make good-faith efforts to follow the law.
Should mandatory E-Verify force much of this workforce off
the books with no avenue to legal work status, the loser is the
honest business, and the winner is the dishonest company who
drives down prices and wages by taking up the skilled labor
under the table. There are over 90,000 landscape companies in
the country, and most average under 20 employees throughout the
year. These are truly small businesses that rely heavily on
labor. These thousands of small businesses need and desperately
want a safe, legal and available labor pool to meet their year-
round and seasonal needs, but if a piecemeal enforcement-only
policy is pursued instead of a comprehensive fix, and the
existing workforce is displaced, where will the labor come
It would be wrong, of course, to state there are no native-
born Americans who are willing or able to do this work. I
myself have worked in the landscape industry my entire life
starting at age 16. Our Nation's demographics, educational and
employment opportunities, however, have changed over the last
50 years. There are certainly some willing to do the work, I
meet them all the time, but the pool to draw from is smaller
than it has ever been and does not meet the overall needs of
An older, slower-growing, better-educated society, while a
good thing in many regards, is the contributing factor to the
difficulties of many businesses in our industry and others like
it have in finding qualified, hard-working labor. The ag
sector, of course, would be hardest hit, of course, with 50 to
75 percent of workers undocumented. We need proactive, forward-
thinking, and comprehensive immigration reform to address these
challenges for the next generation of business owners and
workers in our industry.
In previous testimony before this Committee, it has been
encouraging to hear about the improvements in the E-Verify
system. And despite the recent and forthcoming improvements,
many of our employers will face special challenges using a
system like E-Verify due to factors like limited high-speed
Internet access, high seasonal hiring and turnover, remote or
nonoffice hiring, and lack of dedicated human resource
personnel staff. We believe it is essential that the program is
simplified for users, that error rates are minimized, and that
identity theft concerns are addressed if E-Verify is to be
phased in for all employers. As I understand it, this still
does make strides in that direction, but the phase-in must
coincide with a broad reform package.
In conclusion, our organization supports the use of E-
Verify, but only as part of a comprehensive approach
modernizing our immigration laws to help the needs of our small
businesses who rely on an immigrant workforce. If enacted as an
isolated measure, however, we believe mandatory E-Verify will
be a clear net negative to our industry and will harm small
businesses across the range of sectors, do serious damage to
Thank you, and I look forward to any questions.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you, Mr. Mondi.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Mondi follows:]
Mr. Gowdy. Thank all our witnesses for staying within the
The Chair will now recognize the gentleman from Virginia,
the Chairman of the full Committee, Mr. Goodlatte.
Mr. Goodlatte. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the testimony of all of our witnesses. And I
will start with you, Mr. Amador. I very much appreciate your
testimony and wondered if would you explain why the National
Restaurant Association believes an E-Verify check should have
an end date.
Mr. Amador. Well, as is currently drafted, one of the
problems that we are having is with extent of nonconfirmations
that go on forever and forever, you know, it could be several
months. Under the law you still have to send them to training,
you still need to do all these things. And you have to--it is
an expenditure for an employer to do all of these things
without knowing whether he is going to be able keep this
employee or not.
So one of the things that my members keep emphasizing to me
is but it has to be clear, and it has to have an end date,
because we want to know whether this employee is going to
continue on our payrolls or we are going to have to let him go.
And we understand, you know, we have been talking to counsel
and looking at the bill. We like, you know, the 10 days, 3 days
and then 10 days, and then under certain circumstances 23 days
should be enough for the government to tell us whether the name
and the Social Security number of that individual that is
working already inside a premises is authorized to do so.
Mr. Goodlatte. Very good.
Ms. Wood, you note in your written testimony that having to
comply with many different State and local employment-
eligibility verification laws has been difficult for some
larger employers with national footprints to manage all the
requirements. Would you comment on those difficulties, and
might companies avoid doing business in certain States or
localities because of competing laws?
Mr. Amador. It creates----
Mr. Goodlatte. You can comment on it, too, but we will go
to Ms. Wood.
Ms. Wood. We are probably on the same page on this one, I
think. You know, to say that a company--you don't want
companies to think, I shouldn't expand in Colorado because
their additional verification sheet is going to make life
difficult. And, you know, HR managers have difficult jobs as it
is. We want them to spend all their energy making sure that
their workforce is authorized as well as managing other tasks.
Right now, when there are a number of different competing
requirements, it is tough for them to do it effectively, be as
compliant as they want. So I think this bill takes good strides
in making, you know, a Federal E-Verify mandate and yet
allowing States to have some ability to do certain things
without allowing them to impose new requirements.
Mr. Goodlatte. Very good.
And, Ms. Blitstein, in the year that NC State has been
using E-Verify, have you had situations in which E-Verify
helped identify situations in which documents presented by an
individual for the I-9 process were not, in fact, valid even
though they looked valid on their face, as current law
Ms. Blitstein. Yes, to my knowledge we have had about two,
maybe three at most, but two that I can clearly remember, where
the individual presented documentation that on its face
appeared to be valid, and then, through the E-Verify checks, we
realized that it was, in fact, very good--in one case a very
good fake and in another case not quite as good. But the system
did catch those, and then we ended that employment.
Ms. Wood. And if I could add just one thing to that. I work
with a lot of high-risk industries. When they come onto E-
Verify for the first time, they find a lot of instances where
there are final nonconfirmations. Of course, then the pattern
shifts, and it is just identity theft. But early on I think
they find it very helpful, particularly the photo-matching
tool, because even if you do regular training for HR managers
on how to identify fraudulent documents, there is turnover in
that position as well, and it is just tough for them to keep up
on the latest changes. So I think E-Verify and the photo-
matching tool has been extremely effective for that purpose.
Mr. Goodlatte. Thank you.
And, Mr. Mondi, what percentage of your industry's
employees are not authorized to work in the U.S.? If, as you
state in your testimony, unscrupulous employers who employ
illegal workers, employees in the competitive marketplace--I am
quoting you--suppress prices and hold down wages, why would you
not want all of your competitors to be required to use E-Verify
as soon as possible?
Mr. Mondi. Sure. I can't give you a specific percentage.
There hasn't been good reporting on that, so I don't have a
specific number for you.
The challenge that a lot of businesses in our industry have
now is that there is already a bottom-feeding tier, if you
will, of employers who are paying cash under the table, who are
not necessarily following existing laws, and there is no reason
to believe that they would discontinue that practice. Obviously
it would depend somewhat on how enforcement was enforced.
The challenge would be that if they are already not
following those practices, and the middle-tier employers who
are forced to do E-Verify, and maybe they have some
undocumented workers that they don't even know about, and all
of that now forces--that part of the workforce gets displaced
downward, there is actually an expanded labor pool for that
bottom market, and the good employees have a problem.
Mr. Goodlatte. Got it. But one would presume that if we
made this mandatory, that one of the keys to that is not just
making it mandatory that that bottom employer, as you described
them, use the system, but that we have an aggressive system to
make sure that they are indeed using the system.
So I am sure you would agree that that should be a part of
this. In fact, in this legislation, while there have been
concerns expressed by some that we not have 50 different States
having 50 different E-Verify systems, we have also recognized
that the States have a role in helping the Federal Government,
which may have more limited resources, in checking to see if
businesses are indeed using E-Verify to have a much greater
compliance effort there to check to make sure businesses are
indeed using it.
So once we have the system up and operating, we want it to
work fairly for the employer and the prospective employee, but
we also want to make sure that everyone is using it. That is
really the whole point of the legislation, to have it mandatory
so everyone is using it, including the people who are getting
away with things today that they shouldn't be getting away
Mr. Mondi. I agree 100 percent. And one of the unique--more
unique challenges of the landscape industry, like maybe some
construction trades, is the oftentimes lack of any centralized
office or location. So we see with environmental regulations as
well where certain companies, it is hard to track them down if
they are dodging license fees or things like that because you
can go to their office if you want--it is generally a room in a
house, or maybe it is a small yard where the owner is--but he
picks up his work to and from the yard--his labor to and from
the yard, they are off site in different locations, sometimes
not just day to day, but hour to hour, and unfortunately it
becomes a real challenge.
Mr. Goodlatte. Thank you very much.
My time is expired. Thank you, Chairman.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentleman from Virginia.
The Chair will now recognize the gentlelady from California
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I would like to follow up with Chairman Goodlatte's
line of inquiry, Mr. Mondi, if I can, because if I am hearing
you correctly, there is an important goal that I think all of
us would share, which is that everybody comply with the same
rules so that it is a level playing field, nobody cheats and
But there is an additional element, I think, and this is
really my question, which is if there is not enough people to
actually hire to do the job, then what? So you are in New
Jersey with the landscape association. In the last Congress,
you know, some people actually said that it wouldn't be so bad
if people and landscaping and agriculture were denied access to
needed workers; that then they would just go to mechanized
efforts, and they would fill in with technology the loss of
Would that work in the landscaping industry? I mean, the
estimate is--we don't know, of course, but the estimate is that
over half of the employees may not have their proper papers,
they may have given a false document or the like. I am not
suggesting that every employer knowingly hired someone not
authorized. Would it work if half or two-thirds of the
employees in the landscaping business in New Jersey were no
longer available to hire?
Mr. Mondi. Well, no. I mean, you would start to
fundamentally change the structure of the whole industry.
Traditionally you are talking about people who are younger and
can handle working outside a lot and things like that. And as
our demographic shifts, that labor pool is getting smaller.
You know, on the agriculture side, we have a lot of nursery
producers, high labor. If a lot of that production just shifted
away from high-labor practices, you would see a loss of access
to local food, especially crop growers shifted to other
practices, or you would see a loss of open space in farmland,
which is certainly not something that I would think we would
want either. New Jersey prides itself, the Garden State, on its
On the landscape industry it proposes a lot of challenges
as well. You start to actually see a separation. You might
actually get to the point where if there are just less people
to do the work, and there is less companies doing the work, a
hyperinflation of the industry, which would start to make home
landscaping, gardening, lawn maintenance, things which many
average Americans and certainly in New Jersey can enjoy these
days start to become unreasonable, start to create this higher
tier of estate gardener--you know, you go back to the estate
gardener sort of status for that community--while possibly
having some sort of an undercurrent down below.
And it is tough to say without having an exact number of--
or exact percentage of the workforce that is undocumented, but
I can tell you in preparation for today, calling my members and
asking questions, New Jersey has high unemployment, and
employers are advertising online and in print and everywhere
you would traditionally do that, and they are having a very
hard time finding employees to do the type of work that they
need. So it is already a challenge, and if that workforce that
is in place was displaced, it would only get worse.
Ms. Lofgren. So, what--if you are seeking some percentage
of immigrants in the workforce, is there any way for people to
I remember years ago, I was so honored when Dr. Richard
Land from the Southern Baptist Convention was a witness before
a Subcommittee, and I always mention that because I don't want
to steal his line. It was a great line. And he said for years,
we had two signs at the southern border. One sign said ``No
Trespassing,'' and the other sign said ``Help Wanted.''
And there is only 5,000 visas a year for unskilled workers
without a college diploma. Are you able to meet the needs in
New Jersey with those 5,000 visas in our current system?
Mr. Mondi. Yeah. We have a lot of employees that are using
the H-2B program right now for some of this temporary seasonal
labor, and it is tough to find one that doesn't have
complications with the system, and any--no system is perfect.
Ms. Lofgren. There is a cap on that as well that is usually
met right away.
Mr. Mondi. There is a cap on that, and in the lowest of our
economic times a few years ago, it was okay. I tell you those
few years before that, that cap was met within the first--you
know, first week of filings, and it was a real problem. And
even now, you know, and anecdotally, you know, speaking with
someone--one of my members on the way up here, they, you know,
asked for 20 employees, and they got 16, and 4--4 are still
stuck in their home country.
And you know, when you are talking about seasonal work and
not seasonal like, well, Christmas is coming, so we need to
hear more salespeople, but when we are talking about seasonal
where when the spring hits, it is time to go, you need your
workers when you need them or you lose work, you lose revenue,
and that--obviously, that is a problem. So----
Ms. Lofgren. I see that my time has expired. I thank the
Chairman, and I yield back.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentlelady from California.
The Chair will now recognize the gentleman from Texas Judge
Mr. Poe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all for being
As we progress through this whole numerous issues on
immigration, and I think there are numerous issues, that as I
look at immigration law, you take any subject, and it is broken
all the way up and down the ladder. And I thank--I commend the
Chairman for being methodical of taking one issue at a time and
trying to solve each of those.
When it comes to workers, I used to be one that thought
that Americans, if they needed work, they would take any job.
Well, we have been proven wrong about that in the last hearing.
We had the Georgia peach orchard guy. I don't know if they grow
peaches in South Carolina or not, but----
Mr. Gowdy. We grow them more than they do in Georgia, Judge
Mr. Poe. We don't grow too many.
But anyway, American farmer wanted to hire 2,000 workers,
put all the ads out, hired every American that applied, 490-
some-odd. Peach season is over, he had three Americans working
for him. Americans don't take those jobs. They have other
My own philosophy is when it comes to workers, temporary
guestworkers on both ends, high-skilled and low-skilled, we
need as many as we need. Sure, hire Americans first, make sure
we fill those low-skill, high-skill jobs with Americans first,
but how many do we need? Well, we need, like I said, as many as
we need, and the marketplace will drive us on that.
I don't think we should set arbitrary numbers. I don't
think the labor union should, the Chamber of Commerce. Congress
has to figure out a way. Maybe that fluctuates from year to
year, I don't know. But my philosophy is marketplace driven,
and this is--the issue of verifying who is working and who is
not working, and making sure that we keep up with workers and
they go home when they are supposed to go home, all those
issues, I commend Chairman Smith trying to make that simpler.
But I say all that to say this: What do they do in other
countries? We are not the only country in the world that has
faced this tremendous issue. Have any of you done research with
the other 194 countries there are in the world, if we count
Texas, 195 countries left in the world, on this specific issue?
And how do they solve this E-Verify concept that we are talking
about? Any of you want to weigh in on that?
Mr. Amador. Well, it is a big question, yes. A lot of
countries have done many different things. I am not saying that
they should be appropriate for the United States, but even if
you look at Europe, they solve their problem by just uniting
and letting poor countries send workers to rich countries, and
that is how they solve their problem.
They have similar ways of verifying identity. They have
different ways of verifying identity. I know in France, you as
an employer are required to send a list every month to the
government, you know, with everybody you hire. There are
different ways of doing it. From the perspective of the United
States, I think building in a system that employers are
becoming more familiar with, I think, is the right way to go.
On the issue of workers, as you mentioned, I think the--we
do not support the W visa part of the Gang of 8 proposal. We
like the big bill as a whole, but, you know, again, maybe
negotiating all of those things ends up creating a lot of
flaws. So I would hope, you know, that thiscommittee, after
taking E-Verify, will look at--I know you are looking at
agriculture next, but look at other portions and maybe come up
with better titles, you know, so when you go to conference, you
are able to come up with a better package.
Mr. Poe. Any of the other three of you want to weigh in on
Ms. Wood. I would just say that I think E-Verify, it is a
pretty good system, and it is increasingly doing kind of a
better and better job. We don't have a demand side down, which
is part of the reason we need to have kind of effective
comprehensive immigration reform, but I think the E-Verify
system, in a country that does not want a national ID card, is
doing a pretty good job, and I think the government is making
it easier and easier.
When I was in the government, and now that was several
years ago, we would meet with many other countries to talk
about migration challenges, and they would ask advice for us--
from us, and we would ask advice from them. So it is not my
experience that somebody else really has it solved. You know,
Australia has an advantage because it is harder to get there,
you know. Kind of there are those kinds of things.
Mr. Poe. That is right.
Ms. Wood. And other countries that have national ID cards
can kind of focus on that. But, you know, we worked with
several countries on effective worksite enforcement and
challenges, because I think global migration patterns and
issues, it is a real challenge for everyone, but I do think,
you know, we are actually making some progress, so I would hope
we stick with this horse.
Mr. Poe. I have one other comment or question.
Mr. Amador, if I own a franchise in Humble, Texas. Let us
use Chik-fil-A. I am a franchise owner. Who is responsible for
checking my employees? Is it me, is it a third party, or is it
Mr. Amador. No. It is the franchisee. I mean, one of the
biggest misconceptions in our industry is when you see a brand
name, you are thinking it is a huge company behind it, and a
lot of them is just really a mom and pop, you know, that may
own two or three franchisees or maybe just one, and he is
responsible for his employees. That is the way it is involved,
because, you know, liability and other matters. So he has to be
able to operate it as well as somebody that may own 100 or so
franchises that may have----
Mr. Poe. It is the franchise owner that is responsible for
Mr. Amador. That is correct.
Mr. Poe. All right. I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you, gentleman from Texas.
The Chair will now recognize the gentleman from Michigan,
the Ranking Member of the full Committee, Mr. Conyers.
Mr. Conyers. Mr. Chairman, may I be skipped temporarily? I
have a--someone waiting.
Mr. Gowdy. Certainly
Mr. Conyers. Thank you very much.
Mr. Gowdy. I believe we would then go to Mr. Gutierrez, the
gentleman from Illinois
Mr. Gutierrez. Thank you so much.
Mr. Gowdy. Yes, sir
Mr. Gutierrez. I want to, first of all, thank all of the
witnesses, and I want to say to my colleagues on both sides of
the aisle I am ready to support a vigorous, rigorous program to
verify employees. I do not want to see a continuation of a
permanent underclass of workers in this country. I want to fix
our broken immigration system.
I think that essential and critical to any comprehensive
immigration reform package is to have E-Verify, and I want to
make sure it works. I want to make sure that, as we have--we
are suggesting today, that if there is an employer in America
who wishes to hire an undocumented worker, that the full weight
of the law is applied to that individual. And I would hope that
as part of any process we make tests, especially in the first
few months, that when we catch any scoundrels out there
attempting to hire undocumented workers, that we enforce the
full force of the law against them, because, you know, it takes
two. It takes also--not every employer is hoodwinked by someone
with false papers. There are employers who knowingly and
willingly undermine American citizen workers by giving workers,
undocumented workers, and I want to end that. I want to end it
not only for the American workers, but I want to end the
inherent exploitation that exists of the undocumented worker.
I think we need to understand that I am for E-Verify
because I want everybody verified for the system. We have a
great Nation. Things are getting better. And how are they
getting better? Everybody tells us, OSHA tells us, American
workers are safer than ever before. Tragically, 13 die every
day and never come home, but they are safer. But when you
extract Latinos from the group, more Latinos are getting hurt
on the job, and more Latinos are dying at the job as the rate
is declining for the overall pool of American workers.
I want that to end, so I am ready for E-Verify. I am ready
to verify everyone. But let me just suggest the following. In
the absence of a comprehensive immigration reform package,
where are the votes to get the public policy? They are
certainly not going to come from this side of the aisle, and we
are going to have difficulty in reaching a grand bargain. And
this, I want to state categorically, is part of the bargain, an
essential fundamental part of any agreement in comprehensive
immigration reform: enforcement, internal enforcement. It will
stop and not allow a future event where, years to come, we have
millions of other undocumented workers exploited again.
So if you look at this from my point of view, and the
humanity, and the safety, and the justice of immigrants and
working men and women, or from a public safety point of view,
or from an economic point of view, take the view you wish, we
should be able to reach an agreement on comprehensive
Now, if you allow the 11 million out there, then what you
are asking me is to take our broken immigration system and
unleash upon them an E-Verify system that is only going to make
them go deeper into a more exploitive state where there will be
more people that can prey upon them, I can't do that. I can do
this, and I will encourage all of my colleagues to do this in
good faith, to keep America safe.
So, I want to thank you, Chairman Gowdy, for putting this
hearing together. I hope we continue to have hearings like
this. I think E-Verify is important. I believe we can make
America safer, and make our workers safer, and live by this
adage: Any job created in America should go to an American
first, but there is plenty of work for others to come to this
country, as they have in the past, to do.
Thank you so much, Chairman Gowdy.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank the gentleman from Illinois.
The Chair would now recognize the gentleman from Texas Mr.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am tempted to ask for
10 minutes, my 5 minutes plus the 5 minutes Mr. Gutierrez did
not use for questions. I can only say that about a friend. I
appreciate and admire Mr. Gutierrez very much for all that he
has contributed to the immigration reform debate.
And I do want to say it is nice to hear everyone who is
here as a witness, and, in fact, all my colleagues support E-
Verify either alone or often in conjunction with other
immigration reforms, and I certainly appreciate that.
Mr. Amador, I would like to start off with you, if I could.
I don't know if I heard you mention in your oral statement the
recent survey that was taken by the National Restaurant
Association. Did you mention that in your opening statement?
Mr. Amador. Go ahead.
Mr. Smith. The recent survey that was taken.
Mr. Amador. Yes.
Mr. Smith. Could you go into some detail about that survey,
because I think it is very instructive.
Mr. Amador. Sure. We--we just issued a survey that was
completed late last year. We got more responses than we thought
we were going to get. We got about 800 of our members, large,
small suppliers. So we got a very good picture of a membership
comment on E-Verify, you know, both members that use it,
members that did not use it.
One thing that, you know, until now and last time we
testified, the National Restaurant Association testified before
the Committee, it was all anecdotal. Now we have the evidence,
you know, and the evidence shows that our--the larger
companies, you know, the larger members, already 49 percent of
them are using E-Verify, and out of those, two-thirds of those
that are using E-Verify sign up to it voluntarily.
One thing I will mention is, I mean, this whole idea that
we cannot do enforcement alone, it is already happening. I
mean, my members are seeing it. It is true that I get a lot of
push-back from my guys in California as to why are you
supporting the Legal Workforce Act; it is not going to be
mandated here. Well, more and more it is mandated across
borders, and it is having different mandates, and that is one
of the complaints. They are signing up, and they are viewing
that it is not just signing to E-Verify, it is signing to E-
Verify of Colorado, E-Verify of Arizona, and they want a
neutral playing ground, you know, where they have one law to
From those that are not using E-Verify, I would say that
the number one comment that they said was, well, we don't have
an HR department, and we would like some options.
Mr. Smith. Okay. Mr. Amador, I just wanted to make the
point that I thought the survey also showed specifically that
79 percent of restaurant owners view E-Verify as 100 percent
accurate. Is that--is that the final----
Mr. Amador. They found that to the best of their
knowledge,that it was 100 percent accurate.
Mr. Smith. When you can find 79 percent of any group of
individuals thinking that anything is 100 percent accurate,
that has got to be a new record either in the private sector or
in the public sector.
Mr. Amador. It was that answer I did not expect, and we
were happy to see it. Another one that was very interesting is
80 percent of those that use E-Verify recommended E-Verify to
Mr. Smith. And to your knowledge,the use of E-Verify, the
cost is minimal by the various owners?
Mr. Amador. That is what they were saying in the survey.
One comment is for those that did not use it. For those that
use it, already have Internet access, already have the
framework in place.
Mr. Smith. Right. And then what is the average time that it
takes to check in a potential or future employee?
Mr. Amador. It takes--it takes minutes.
Mr. Smith. You could say 2 to 3 minutes.
Mr. Amador. And if you want to--excuse me?
Mr. Smith. Two to 3 minutes is what I have heard. Is that
Mr. Amador. Two to 3 minutes. And the number one complaint
with it, which was the original question at the beginning of
the hearing, was the tentative nonconfirmation throws a wrench
into the system. So the 2 or 3 minutes we love, but then the
tentative nonconfirmation adds additional cost to----
Mr. Smith. Right. And the nonconfirmation shouldn't be a
surprise, maybe particularly in the restaurant business, but in
any business, because across the country about 5 percent of the
workforce is illegal. So when we find out that 5 percent across
the board doesn't--don't get confirmed, that is not a flaw in
the system; that is actually showing that the system works.
Mr. Amador. And the concern that they have with exemptions
that--exceptions that have been created in other States is they
may need--it is a very neighborly business, right, so you turn
somebody down, and they say, then I go to another restaurant
that is exempted, because it happens perhaps throughout----
Mr. Smith. That is why everybody needs to use E-Verify.
Mr. Amador. Right.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Ms. Blitstein, I wanted to go back to your statement, and I
wanted to really clarify for the record, when you talked about
applying E-Verify to the current employees, that I wanted to
make sure that you and others understood that the bill, yes,
does apply to current employees when it comes to Federal
contractors, for example, but as far as all other businesses,
when we are talking about future employees. So the burden is
not going to be there, the burden that you might feel, and we
can talk more about what to do about it, but that burden is not
going to apply in, I would say, 99 percent of the cases.
The bill allows an employer to check current employees if
they check all employees, and that is in an effort to avoid
discrimination. But again, that is voluntary. We don't force
everybody to check their current workforce. I just want to make
sure that that was clear.
I appreciate your saying that E-Verify works as intended,
and that it is a balanced approach as would--as well.
Is my time already up? Maybe I will go into Mr. Gutierrez's
5 minutes. No. No.
My time is up. Ms. Wood, let me just thank you for your
testimony very quickly, and may I ask you what benefit you
think E-Verify has for American workers? Sometimes that gets
lost. We all talk about foreign workers. I don't think we talk
enough about the benefits to American workers. And, Mr.
Chairman, if I could ask your indulgence for her to answer that
Mr. Gowdy. Certainly.
Ms. Wood. Well, E-Verify provides kind of an even playing
field for authorized workers when they apply to the system, and
so it encourages employers to have, you know, wages and other
things that are not undercut because they are depending on an
illegal and unauthorized workforce.
Mr. Smith. Okay. Thank the gentleman from Texas.
The Chair would now recognize the gentlelady from Texas Ms.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I think that has a certain ring to it.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And as my good friend Mr. Smith was leaving, let me thank
you and the Ranking Member. And I wanted to make mention of the
fact for the record that yesterday we completed in Homeland
Security one of the components to comprehensive immigration
reform, which is a very strong border security bill, and I
wanted to make mention for this Committee that Mr. Smith and I
joined on an amendment that covered operational control for--
oh, I am sorry. I thought you had stepped away--operational
control for the entire border. And I just wanted to show a sign
of bipartisanship and comfort for this Committee as we look at
these issues that are enormously important, and if I might do
an advertisement, I hope that we will consider that bill as a
component to the process of comprehensive immigration reform.
Let me thank the witnesses. Mr. Amador, it is good to see
you again. We have had a long journey of working together. But
I really want to take a moment and thank the National
Restaurant Association. We have worked with them over the
years, but I do want to thank them for being such an enormous
economic engine, and coming from Texas and Houston with such a
large membership, certainly my friends, I have been in their
restaurants, I have met with them, I understand the challenges
that they have, and I would also say that they seek to hire
anyone who will come and be a good worker, and do the job, and
stay on the job.
You have given opportunity to young people. I am hearing
that you are hiring seniors because seniors are coming back to
work, and in between. And there are people at your--in your
business--businesses that use the restaurant job as their
income for their family, so I think your work is very
And I wanted to just ask a straight-out question because I
wanted to make sure we were correct. The National Restaurant
Association is supporting a comprehensive immigration reform;
is that not the case?
Mr. Amador. We support immigration reform whether it is one
piece at a time, whether it is only DACA. We supported DACA by
itself. We support the Legal Workforce Act, and we support
legalization of work--legal work status for I wouldn't say all,
but certainly a great number of the 11 million.
Ms. Jackson Lee. My understanding is that you are going on
record for access to legalization for the 11-, 12 million
Mr. Amador. Of course, with caveats as, you know, if you
have a criminal record and things like that.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Well, our bill will cover all that.
Mr. Amador. But other than that, yes
Ms. Jackson Lee. You are.
And you would--you would certainly be happy if components
of what you are interested in came out in the form of a
comprehensive immigration package.
Mr. Amador. Correct.
Ms. Jackson Lee. So we can work together.
I wanted to just go over some--and thank you for that. And
I want to look very closely at this legislation. Certainly our
Chairman has made a great effort. One of the things that I want
to implore the Chairman of the full Committee for and the
Ranking Member is that we do have regular order, and that this
Committee has the ability to participate in the process, and
hopefully we will find that there are people here who will work
for the greater good.
I want to ask Ms.--is it Blitstein?
Ms. Blitstein. Blitstein.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Blitstein, let me get that correct. One of
the things that I wanted to raise very quickly is the question
of due process and the ability to challenge the idea that I am
documented. Do you have an answer to that? There is no
provision in this bill for due process. If someone has claimed
falsely that they are not--they don't verify them, but they are
a citizen, or they have status?
Ms. Blitstein. CUPA-HR would be in support of measures that
could afford someone due process. No system is completely
perfect, and while we certainly support the Legal Workforce
Act, that doesn't mean--because there is no provision, that
doesn't mean that we wouldn't be supportive of--of some
mechanism like that.
Ms. Jackson Lee. That would be very helpful. Thank you.
I want to go back to Mr. Amador. One of the major concerns
about E-Verify has been raised. Historically the system returns
an unacceptably high percentage of both erroneous confirmations
and erroneous nonconfirmations. And we have heard testimony
from USCIS early this year that improvements have been made.
Will that pose a problem? And I have heard from the restaurant
association that that has been a problem.
Mr. Amador. It used to be a bigger problem. And again, you
know, we had originally opposed--and this is years ago when it
was first mandated, we had opposed E-Verify, but the
improvements are significant, and our members are telling us
that, you know, when people go back, they are able to fix those
Ms. Jackson Lee. But you would want to make sure that those
problems would be fixed.
Mr. Amador. Well, of course, you know, we would like the
system to always improve, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be
mandated, because it is working for the purpose intended.
Ms. Ja0ckson Lee. I appreciate it.
Mr. Mondi, I am sorry. Let me just--appreciate your
industry as well, and I don't want you to have to go out of
business. What about the idea of how much this would cost maybe
for the employer, for the employee, and fraudulent documents?
And in your industry it is seasonal, what kind of major impact
that would have on you.
Mr. Mondi. So----
Ms. Jackson Lee. How much--how much the system would cost,
maybe cost the user, et cetera.
Mr. Mondi. If----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Added cost.
Mr. Mondi. It would add a lot of cost in lost time. So
actual dollars spent, if the technology advancements do come to
fruition the way they have been suggested they may, with
smartphone application and telephonic things, that might be
very helpful. If your office is the cab of your pickup truck,
however, any sort of additional paperwork burden is just that.
It takes more time, it takes more time in the office, less time
in the field. You are talking about owner/operators who will
spend as much time with their hands on the shovel as they do on
a keyboard, right?
So the biggest loss of money is going to be through
additional time and administrative burdens. They don't have HR
staff; you know, they cover every aspect of the business. And
so when you are off site, when you do don't have an office, and
you don't have dedicated office staff, any types of challenge--
any type of paperwork burdens become a challenge.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Let me thank the witnesses, and again, if
I might add my appreciation for the restaurant association and
the work Mr. Amador has done with us. Can we continue to work
Mr. Amador. Yes.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I would love to do that.
I want to thank the Chairman, and I yield back.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank the gentlelady from Texas.
The Chair would now recognize the gentleman from Iowa Mr.
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the witnesses for your testimony here
today. And as I listen to the theme through here, that there is
work that Americans won't do, and having spent my life for a
time with a shovel in my hands or down in the ditch, and
actually I haven't found anything that I won't do, or anything
I can't get my sons to do, or anything that I can't get our
crew to do. Whether it is 126 degrees heat index or 60 below
windchill, we will do what needs to be done.
And there are an awful lot of Americans that are
naturalized, native-born Americans that are out there in the
cold and the wind and the heat in the ditch doing this work
every single day, and I pay attention. Around this city I can
send my staff out with a video camera, and we could find you
all kinds of work done in this city done by Americans that are
doing work that Americans won't do.
So I just--I wanted to put that particular thing, perhaps,
to rest, although it keeps recurring year by year, and make the
point that, for example, 75 percent of illegal aliens in this
country have less than a high school degree, high school degree
or less, and a household headed by a high school--someone with
a high school--without a high school degree will draw down--
will pay in taxes about $11,469 in taxes, and they will receive
about $46,582 in benefits. That is a net fiscal deficit of
What we are talking about here is a Nation that has a
cradle-to-grave welfare system. This is not 1900. This isn't
1907 when the previous wave of immigration peaked. This is the
cradle-to-grave welfare system in the United States, and Milton
Friedman said clearly that the--an open borders program and a
cradle-to-grave welfare system cannot coexist, and that is what
we are doing here.
What we are doing is, speaking of the comprehensive
immigration reform policy that has recurred here, is that we
are really talking about taxpayers subsidizing the difference
between the cost of sustaining a household and the wages that
can be drawn into that household from someone who is--who is, I
will say, of lower education, not necessarily lower skills. And
I would ask unanimous consent to introduce into the record the
Robert Rector report of the Heritage Foundation dated May 6,
2013, and ask a unanimous consent, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gowdy. Without objection.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. King. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Then I wanted to ask the question of Mr. Amador, the bill
prohibits an employer from checking current employees unless
they check all current employees. So let me suggest that if you
had a national restaurant burger chain, and you had--in one or
more of the locations you had reasonable suspicion that a high
percentage or even any of your workforce was working
unlawfully, under this E-Verify bill, how would you go about
doing your due diligence as a citizen to verify those employees
if you had that administrative burden of all the employees in
the Nation, as Ms. Blitstein has said?
Mr. Amador. Well, let us--I will say a little bit of
history, and I know Ms. Blitstein--Blitstein reported on that a
When the Federal Government, when the Obama administration
continued the policy of the Bush administration requiring
Federal contractors to reverify the entire workforce, the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit. They have since lost that
lawsuit, but it was accounted that it cost millions of dollars
to reverify people that had already gone through the current
system and there was no suspicion of any of them being
The same is still true for the entire workforce. It is very
expensive to go back and reverify, particularly in our industry
where you have such a high turnover rate, to bring everybody in
and make sure that you didn't miss anybody, even the owner,
because if you did that, then you open yourself for liability.
Mr. King. Would you prefer to have the option that as an
employer at a location could just simply run one or more of the
employees who he verified that were current employees?
Mr. Amador. We have always supported a voluntary
reverification with good cause. That doesn't mean that we want
to waive other nondiscrimination and antidiscrimination laws,
but at the same time, you know, if you have good cause, if you
have reason to believe that the----
Mr. King. And I can get into that discrimination piece,
because the computer doesn't know the difference. But I would
go to Ms. Wood in the time that I have left, because one of my
other concerns, and I have a couple--one of my other concerns
is that we have an executive branch that refuses to enforce
immigration law, and so it is hard for me--although I like a
lot that is in this bill, it is hard for me to get to the point
where I can except that with a promise of enforcement of
immigration law, we would actually get enforcement, since I
have been watching this since 1986 and am disappointed with
every Administration, including Ronald Reagan, on this issue.
How could we expect the law to actually be enforced unless the
President wants it to happen and believes in it?
Ms. Wood. Well, I think it is tough, and as I noted in my
written testimony, I mean, it has been a challenge, you know,
how can we do this more effectively? That doesn't mean, I
think, that we give up, and I think this bill and more and more
employers going on E-Verify is a good start.
I would note just with the idea of verifying kind of one
employee at a time, I do think we have to be careful and build
in some civil rights and civil liberty kind of protection,
because you could have a well-intentioned HR manager that would
just decide that only employees that don't speak English well,
those would be the one I would--would want to run through for
So I think we have to be careful if you allow people just
to run an individual employee through without a reasonable
amount of suspicion or a particular investigation that would
lead them to that.
Mr. King. Thank you, Ms. Wood.
And I would note, Mr. Chairman, that you have already made
the decision to hire, that would be when the discrimination
would take place.
And I yield back.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentleman from Iowa.
The Chair would now recognize the gentleman from Florida
Mr. Garcia. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Wood, you worked in the previous Administration, and
back then, if I remember correctly, you favored comprehensive
Ms. Wood. That is right, and I still do, yes
Mr. Garcia. Good.
I just want to get back to a statement that was just made.
You would assume that since we are deporting about half a
million people a year, that this Administration is enforcing
Ms. Wood. I think that no Administration, the Bush
administration included, has been effective in truly reducing
the magnet of unlawful employment. I think we have all tried,
we tried in different ways, and we haven't succeeded. And so I
think it makes sense to look at how can we improve our overall
system. One of those ways is by making E-Verify mandatory and
looking at that. I certainly think that the continuation of the
Secure Communities program has been a very positive thing, and
there has been other positive things in the Obama
administration as well.
Mr. Garcia. Thank you. Just glad to know--I am glad that
you agree that we are enforcing immigration law. It is an
important aspect to this.
I want to ask you, following up, you would--you would agree
with me that sort of continuation of an immigration system that
is broken under the current confines makes absolutely no sense,
right, that you are probably trying to do the impossible?
Ms. Wood. I think our system is broken, has been broken,
and we need to do something to fix and address. I think we have
a responsibility to do that, even though it is tough, and even
though the answers, frankly, may not be perfect. But I do think
this bill on the E-Verify piece, I will say, is, in my view,
better than the proposal in the Gang of 8 relating to
employment verification, so I hope that something more similar
to this could be considered at an appropriate time
Mr. Garcia. I would imagine that because you believe in
comprehensive immigration reform, you see this as a part of a
broader--broader component. This is but a component of an
overall immigration overhaul, and that what we need to do is
fix it all at once and get it done, correct?
Ms. Wood. We need to fix it, but if this is all we can do,
I would say let us start with this. So I am--you know, I
certainly think we need to fix it, but--but just like DACA, it
may be that there are portions of reform that make sense in
different chunks, and that the American people are--and
Congress would be able to do that in kind of sizeable pieces,
and I am not opposed to that. If we can do it in one overall
bargain, you know, kind of all the better, but we have got to
make sure we get every piece of it right. Got to make sure we
get interior enforcement right, border enforcement right,
future demand right, and that is very difficult, particularly
in a bill that is almost 900 pages.
Mr. Garcia. You do realize, though, the complexity when we
have Members of this Committee who find the ability of doing
immigration at all or making the assertion, almost ludicrous
assertion, that Americans are willing do all these jobs when we
found that that has not been the case across the board probably
for the last two decades, correct?
Ms. Wood. These are incredibly tough issues, and I think
the fact that Congress is focusing on them so much now makes a
lot of sense. And so I just hope that there is political
courage on both sides of the aisle to seek for a reasonable
situation that is not perfect, doesn't satisfy everyone's
equities, but moves the ball forward, because the current
situation we are in, I think, is not tenable and not
sustainable in the way we would like for the American public.
Mr. Garcia. Okay. I wanted to--thank you.
I wanted to ask Mr. Mondi a few--a question.
So, you know, implementing these requirements to the
agriculture industry, last time it came up, there was sort of
an outcry because it could basically shut down the agricultural
industry, and, in fact, there were consequences when we had
enforced certain provisions in certain parts of the country. So
is--is the E-Verify that we are proposing here workable for
your industry, and would you----
Mr. Mondi. E-Verify is important as part of--there are a
couple other components. I know after this hearing we are going
to be discussing a workforce--a guestworker bill.
Mr. Garcia. Uh-huh.
Mr. Mondi. And now for specific comment, certainly that
panel can address those, but there is also the legalization
factor where if you have people who develop skills over time
that have been here working hard, which we know in agriculture
in particular, since that is your question, there is a lot of
them, without some--you can't pick up three-quarters of the
workforce, throw them out, and just bring in--replace that with
new people that have no experience and maybe even ability.
So, I think that E-Verify is going to absolutely be a part
of advancing agriculture, but I think it is going to be
imperative that there is a guestworker program, and that there
is some legalization program as well.
Mr. Garcia. Or broader comprehensive immigration.
Mr. Mondi. And all those things together are contingent on
each other, so they need to be together.
Mr. Garcia. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentleman from Florida.
The Chair will now recognize the gentleman from North
Carolina, the former U.S. attorney Mr. Holding.
Mr. Holding. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Blitstein, welcome. I understand you are a constituent
of mine, so it is a delight to have you in the Committee today,
and so I will ask you a few questions.
In the years that NC State has been using the E-Verify
system, have you had situations in which E-Verify has helped
identify places in which documents presented by an individual
for the I-9 process were not, in fact, valid even though they
looked valid on their face, as current law requires?
Ms. Blitstein. In our experience we had, that I can think
of, about two situations that I can think of with clarity where
the system did catch that they were fake documents. One of--
they are both green cards or permanent resident cards. One of
them was actually very good, and it took me a little while,
after I got the result, to figure out where some of the
fraudulent aspects had come in. And then there was one that was
not quite as good, but the system captured that right away, and
then we terminated that employment.
Mr. Holding. And did you follow up with law enforcement at
all on the fraudulent documents?
Ms. Blitstein. We did not. And because through the E-Verify
system, now at least the Department of Homeland Security was
aware that those individuals were using fake documents, and so
we ended our employment, which is our obligation, and then that
is when we ended the matter.
Mr. Holding. And do you have any idea whether the
Department of Homeland Security followed up on, you know,
occurrence of fake documents being used with individuals?
Ms. Blitstein. On those two instances, I am not aware, and
Homeland Security did not reach out to my office at all about
those two individuals.
Mr. Holding. The--this is to the whole panel. You know, as
a situation like that arises, and, you know, you catch an
instance of false documents, have any of you ever gone beyond
what is required and reached out to law enforcement to ask them
to follow up on, hey, we have someone here using false
Ms. Wood. I work with some companies that under the IMAGE
program have a protocol where they can relate certain things to
ICE and so have done that on certain occasions. But it is not
where they have an individual employee that is a problem, but
where they are seeing kind of a current pattern or something
else, like the fraud is shifting of individuals trying to get
through the system, and they report that.
Mr. Holding. All right. The--again to you, Ms. Blitstein.
How many resources are wasted when an employer is required to
actually hire an employee before the employer can check the
work eligibility of that employee and subsequently finds out
that the new employee is not work authorized?
Ms. Blitstein. Because of the industry that I am in, higher
education, I would say that we are unique from some in that we
have not found a large instance where we did subsequently have
any issues with documentation. So it is not something that has
occurred and wasted a lot of our time, but certainly, like my
colleagues can say, I do understand when you get the tentative
nonconfirmation, and that process can take a while to get
resolved, that there are resources that potentially could be
effective, or you are training someone and then they have to
leave. But at least at NC State we have not really had that as
Mr. Holding. All right.
Ms. Wood. And, in fact, if I could just add.
Mr. Holding. Sure.
Ms. Wood. Particularly what we see in the proposed Senate
bill, the idea that after a nonconfirmation an individual can
then go to an ALJ, I mean, there is so much uncertainty for an
employer, and I think that is very problematic, and you are
going to have employees who are not authorized who are going to
try to game the system and stay and work as long as possible.
So I think that it is stretching out the amount of time before
the employer has a final decision could be a really kind of
problematic thing in terms of business operation, money wasted
on training for people who ultimately aren't authorized, et
Mr. Amador. And I would like to add.
Mr. Holding. Yes, sir.
Mr. Amador. In our industry, I guess, is the opposite.
Because of the demographics of our industry, and we are very
proud of our diversities at all levels, from managers to cooks
to dishwashers, you know, we are very proud of that, but we get
a disproportionate amount of these nonconfirmations than vis--
vis other industries. The number one cost is the cost of
training. You know, you are training this individual for a job
that he may not have the following day, and at the same time
you cannot hire somebody else to do the job. So that is the
number one reason.
So, one thing that is very important that we have been
asking for for years, from both Democrats and Republicans, is
something that is on this bill: being able to conditionally
hire somebody that--saying, well, if everything checks--you
know, right now you can look at background checks, you can look
at all of these other checks except employment authorization.
Under this bill, you can make employment conditional on a final
confirmation, and that that is very important because you do
not waste all that time and money, you know, training somebody
that might not end up working for you after all.
Mr. Holding. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Mr. Gowdy. I thank the gentleman from North Carolina.
The Chair would now yield to the gentlelady from California
for a question.
Ms. Lofgren. Just one quick question, Ms. Wood. You, I
think, said that it would be a concern that unauthorized
workers would game the system to string it out. Do you have
any--are there any studies, or, I mean, any evidence to support
that statement, because I--at least in what we have seen,
people who are here unauthorized, the last thing they want to
do is come to the attention of anybody. I mean, they are
hightailing it down the street if they get caught. What data to
you have to support that?
Ms. Wood. Certainly there are companies that I have worked
with where that has occurred. And so I think that the attitude
is changing a little bit, and part of that may be people, you
know, are hoping that there is going to reform in the system,
and so that if they can just work a little bit longer, 2 or 3
weeks, while they are employing for a job down the street, they
would do that.
I would say several years ago we didn't see that. I think
there was more willingness even--unfortunately, even people who
are authorized, but may be new immigrants, if there is a TNC
that came back, sometimes they would leave the job when they
shouldn't have. But now we are actually seeing people who are
contesting even final nonconfirmation.
Ms. Lofgren. If you could provide us some examples of that,
I would appreciate it. I remember my former counsel on the
Subcommittee when I chaired who was an American citizen and--
you know, an Immigration counsel, who was given a tentative
Ms. Wood. Right.
Ms. Lofgren. And it took her--I mean, she is an immigration
lawyer. I was Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee. It took
Ms. Wood. That might be the problem.
Ms. Lofgren. It took her almost a month and a half to sort
it out, and, I mean--and if there is no process, you just get
fired, and if you don't get notified----
Ms. Wood. Right.
Ms. Lofgren [continuing]. Then you can never fix it.
Ms. Wood. Well, you certainly should have the process, and
I think the current process generally works. I will tell you
that right now we have had some people that have gotten a final
nonconfirmation, but are authorized, and what they have able to
do, and we have helped them, go to USCIS and get that resolved.
So I do think it is important that on an individual basis there
are ways that if the government kind of doing it and they go
and address that. What I am concerned about is
institutionalizing the idea of having an ALJ and other layers
Ms. Lofgren. I am not necessarily talking about the Senate
bill so much as the need for Americans to not be treated
Ms. Wood. Oh, yeah, and I think the current TNC process, I
think, works generally very well.
Ms. Lofgren. I am going to stop, because I want to thank
the Chairman for letting me ask that question, and I don't want
to abuse his good courtesy.
Mr. Gowdy. Yes, ma'am. Thank you. I thank the gentlelady
The Chair will now recognize himself for 5 minutes, and I
would begin by asking unanimous consent to enter into the
record the following: letters of support for H.R. 1772 from the
National Restaurant Association, Associated Builders and
Contractors, Essential Worker Immigrant Coalition, National
Retail Federation, Darden Restaurants, and a statement of
support for this bill from ImmigrationWorks USA. Without
objection, so entered.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. Gowdy. Ms. Wood, do you agree the safe harbor
provisions in this bill are balanced inasmuch as they seek to
protect employers who use the system in good faith, but also
allow the government the flexibility to enforce the laws
against employers who do not use the system in good faith?
Ms. Wood. You know, I do think that the safe harbor
provisions attempt to do that. I think one thing that is
important is you want to make sure employers have the ability
if someone comes in on day one with an obviously fraudulent
document, and you are going through the I-9 process, that you
can kind of end it right there without them having to move
through, you know, a longer E-Verify system or something else.
But, yes, I do think the safe harbor--and I think it is
important for employers to have a good safe harbor that works.
Mr. Gowdy. You have referenced consultation and work you
have done with employers in the past. Can you speak to their
initial apprehension or skepticism with using this system and
whether or not actually using it has mollified those
skepticisms at all?
Ms. Wood. It really has. For the employers that I have
worked with in the landscaping, construction, and in the
restaurant industry, often the first reaction is this will
never work for our workforce, it is absolutely going to destroy
our ability. And, you know, oftentimes some of these companies
weren't coming to E-Verify voluntarily. Some of these companies
were encouraged to do so by, you know, difficulties in
interacting with ICE and things. But once they are on the
system, you know, they feel a lot of help from the system, they
feel a lot of surety from the system, particularly with the
photo matching and other tools that E-Verify has.
You know, I will say that sometimes their turnover is
higher than they are used to, even in high-turnover industries,
for a period of time, but I think as employers are on it, they
get used to it, and I think the workforce knows that it is
coming and looking for jobs there that, you know, X company is
an E-Verify employer, and so that there is almost a self-
selecting of the workforce up to some degree.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you.
Mr. Amador, what are your thoughts on allowing an employer
to acquire a prospective employee--to require a prospective
employee to use and be confirmed through the E-Verify self-
check option prior to hire? Do you think it is a good idea,
and, if so, why?
Mr. Amador. No. I think it is a terrible idea. I have had
an E-Verify check. I know Tracy Hung had issues. But I didn't
pass the self-check, so maybe that is why I opposed it.
No, it is a two-step process. It is not--when people say
you got to do a self-check, it is not just doing E-Verify. You
have got to pass through a process that is not based on any
government database; it is based on credit report. And my
credit report has my name misspelled four different ways, and
that was the options that it gave me to choose from, and I
chose ``none of the above'' because I knew my name was
misspelled. In that case--and counsel told me to bring my
passport just in case they asked for another check.
But--so once that happened, it doesn't let you go forward.
You are never able to do E-Verify. The way I fixed it is I was
able to pick up the phone and call Alan Mayorcas, who runs a
great agency, and he assigned somebody with me, and it took
them 3 months to explain to me what was it that went wrong.
So asking somebody to do a self-check is completely
different than asking somebody to do an E-Verify check, and if
they are young and don't have enough credit history, if their
credit report is full of errors, or if you do not remember who
had your first mortgage at what bank that was sold three times,
you might never get through E-Verify. So for that reason I
don't think it should be required.
It is something to encourage people to do so they have that
peace of mind when they go and apply for a job that, you know,
they are not going to encounter any problems, but it shouldn't
be require, because, again, if it is not based on the
government database, the security provisions that it has in
place are based on credit reports and is not, in my view,
accurate enough, from personal experience.
Mr. Gowdy. Thank you.
Mr. Mondi, I don't have a question, but I do want you to
know that I--some of my better friends back in Spartanburg,
South Carolina, are in the landscaping and nursery business.
When they allow me into Sunday school, I sit beside one of the
largest landscapers and nursery owners.
I have never served in the statehouse in South Carolina. I
think E-Verify is mandatory in South Carolina. And so I
appreciate the work that your constituents, if you will, do.
And they are some of the better people that I know in my
hometown, and they are wonderful employers, and they make a
huge contribution to our community.
So, with that, and for each of you, this concludes our
hearing, and I want to thank you on behalf of everyone on both
sides, and especially our Chairman, Mr. Goodlatte, and my
Ranking Member, Ms. Lofgren, for your very informative
testimony and asking good questions, your collegiality toward
one another and with the Committee.
Without objection, all Members will have 5 legislative days
to submit additional questions, written questions, for the
witnesses or additional materials for the record.
This hearing is adjourned. We are going to take a brief
recess and then proceed to a hearing on H.R. 1773, which is the
Agricultural Guestworker Act.
With that, this hearing is adjourned, and thank you all for
[Whereupon, at 11:58 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Bob Goodlatte, a Representative in
Congress from the State of Virginia, and Chairman, Committee on the
Thank you Chairman Gowdy. And thank you Mr. Smith for your work on
The future of immigration reform hinges on assuring the American
people that our immigration laws will be enforced. In the past,
Americans were promised tougher enforcement in exchange for the
legalization of those unlawfully in the U.S. Succeeding Administrations
never kept these promises and today we are left with a broken
One way to make sure we discourage illegal immigration in the
future is to prevent unlawful immigrants from getting jobs in the U.S.
Requiring the use of E-Verify by all employers across the country will
help do just that. The web-based program is a reliable and fast way for
employers to electronically check the work eligibility of newly hired
H.R. 1772, the ``Legal Workforce Act,'' builds on E-Verify's
success and helps ensure the strong enforcement that was promised to
the American people many years ago.
The Legal Workforce Act doesn't simply leave enforcement up to the
In fact, it actually empowers states to help enforce the law,
ensuring that we don't continue the enforcement mistakes of the past
where a President can `turn-off' federal enforcement efforts
Over 450,000 employers are currently signed up to use E-Verify. It
is easy for employers to use and is effective. In fact as USICS
testified in front of this Subcommittee this past February, E-verify's
accuracy rate for confirmation of work eligibility is 99.7 percent.
But the system is not perfect. For instance, in cases of identity
theft, when an individual submits stolen identity documents and
information, E-Verify may confirm the work eligibility of that
This happens because E-Verify uses a Social Security Number (SSN)
or alien identification number and certain other corresponding
identifying information such as the name and date of birth of an
individual, to determine if the SSN or alien identification number
associated with that corresponding information is work eligible. Thus
if an individual uses a stolen SSN and the real name corresponding with
that SSN, a false positive result could occur.
The Legal Workforce Act addresses identity theft in several ways.
First, it requires notification to employees who submit for E-Verify a
SSN that shows a pattern of unusual multiple use. So the rightful owner
of the SSN will know that their SSN may have been compromised.
And once they confirm this, DHS and SSA must ``lock'' that SSN so
no one else can use it for employment eligibility purposes.
The bill also creates a program through which parents or legal
guardians can ``lock'' the SSNs of their minor children for work
eligibility purposes. This is to combat the rise in the number of
thefts of children's identities.
But there are other changes that should also be made. For instance,
in order to help prevent identity theft, USCIS created and utilizes the
photo-match tool in which photos from greencards, work authorization
documents and passports can be seen during the use of E-verify in order
to help ensure that the person submitting the identity document is in
fact the person who owns that document. But I recently learned that
USCIS materials regarding the use of E-Verify specifically state that
``A photo displayed in E-Verify should be compared with the photo in
the document that the employee has presented and not with the face of
What good is the photo match tool to prevent identity theft if the
employer is prohibited from matching the photos to the person
submitting the identity document? This policy is ludicrous and we will
look to address it as this legislation moves forward.
The bill also phases-in E-Verify use in six month increments
beginning with the largest U.S. businesses, raises penalties for
employers who don't use E-Verify according to the requirements, allows
employers to use E-Verify prior to the date they hire an employee and
provides meaningful safe harbors for employers who use the system in
H.R. 1772 balances the needs of the American people regarding
immigration enforcement with the needs of the business community
regarding a fair and workable electronic employment verification
While I want to continue working with the business community and
other stakeholders to address any additional concerns with the bill, I
am pleased to be an original cosponsor and look forward to the
testimony of the witnesses today.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back the balance of my time.