AILA Opposes Legal Workforce Act

Would harm American workers and businesses; would do nothing to fix immigration problems

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Washington, DC - Today, the House Judiciary Committee marks up the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1772), which is one of several piecemeal measures they have considered. This bill will make mandatory the use of an electronic employment verification system that would replace the current voluntary E-Verify system. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) opposes the legislation because it will harm American workers and businesses and do nothing to fix the nation's immigration problems. Standing alone, this measure represents yet another fatally flawed enforcement-only effort.

"E-Verify or any new electronic employment verification system will be an important tool in the effort to address unauthorized employment," said AILA President Laura Lichter. She continued, "We must keep in mind however, if all U.S. employers were required to use E-Verify right now, at the current error rate we would see in the neighborhood of 1.7 million errors, potentially impacting lawful workers. That is simply too high. Furthermore, the bill would roll out this expanded verification system requiring all employers to use it in just 2 years. This is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, another crucial issue to resolve is how to create a system that can effectively deal with identity fraud without unnecessarily trampling our civil liberties."

As Congress is poised to address major immigration reforms, AILA believes that effective worksite enforcement is a logical component of any practical effort to fix the ills that plague our nation's immigration system. While real immigration reform can only be accomplished with a comprehensive approach, the key interests that an employment verification system must balance are individual worker rights and legitimate employer concerns. Any such system must:

  • Be implemented in a way that minimizes the burdens on businesses, especially while the economy is recovering,
  • Be effectively scalable - if E-Verify is made mandatory, employer usage will go rapidly from about 400,000 to 15 million,
  • Protect the interests of small businesses,
  • Provide the ability for businesses to correct paperwork errors,
  • Provide a realistic and effective safe harbor for businesses that make technical or harmless errors,
  • Provide mechanisms to suspend the rollout of the employment verification program if patterns of errors develop,
  • Be phased-in in a way to safeguard workers' due process rights, ensure safe working conditions, and prevent worker exploitation, and
  • Ensure that information is kept confidential and used only to determine work eligibility.

"Yes, this is a tall order and it certainly cannot be accomplished in a piecemeal fashion. With immigration reform within our grasp, the House of Representatives must focus on a reform package that includes a roadmap to lawful permanent status for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S., reforms to the legal immigration system in a way that will help businesses to grow, families to reunite and bring fairness to immigration enforcement," Ms. Lichter concluded.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13062642.