AILA to Congress: Stop H.R. 2164’s Mandatory Employment Verification Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 15, 2011

George Tzamaras / Jenny Werwa
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628 /

Don't Hurt American Businesses, Workers, and Households

WASHINGTON, DC --Today the House Immigration Subcommittee will conduct a hearing on the “Legal Workforce Act” (Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX), which would mandate implementation of a new employment verification system nationwide for all employers and all workers under one of the fastest timelines ever. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) opposes this dangerous proposal that will harm American workers and businesses and do nothing to fix the nation’s immigration problems.

“The current E-Verify program is still incredibly flawed and would hurt millions of American workers,” said AILA President, David Leopold. Every report on the program has found major flaws such as a failure rate of more than 50 percent and database errors that lead to legal workers being wrongly rejected. “If Congress makes this law, we will see thousands of employed or job-seeking Americans wasting their time standing lined up at government offices to clear up their records. No elected official will want to be blamed for that,” said Leopold.

“This bill puts the government into the living rooms and workplaces of every American and will compromise personal privacy and security,” said Leopold referring to the biometric ID program that would be established using faulty private databases. “Hackers just committed an unprecedented breach of the firewall of Citigroup compromising more than 200,000 people’s personal financial histories. If H.R. 2164 becomes law, many more American workers will be hit with identity theft.”

“All employers—from Fortune 500 giants down to single families employing nannies—will have to use it, and that’s going to put real costs and burdens on the backs of all Americans,” said Leopold. This bill will do enormous harm by disrupting business operations, forcing millions of workers into the black market economy, and decreasing tax revenue by more than $17 billion in a decade,” said Leopold. Conservative estimates indicate that small businesses alone will pay several billions of dollars to implement the new system. Agriculture and other industries relying upon seasonal, undocumented workers will be decimated if this enforcement-only scheme is implemented without a plan to provide them with legal and willing workers.

“America needs a real solution to the complex immigration issue, and this is not it. Rep. Smith claims the bill will help American workers but that’s a false promise,” said Leopold. “Eight million undocumented workers will not deport themselves. They will be pushed into the underground economy where they will not have labor protections. We need a comprehensive plan for immigration that requires millions of undocumented workers to register so they can legalize their status.”

The Smith bill mandates an impossible 2-year expedited implementation schedule nationwide for a new and untested employment verification system. The government cannot possibly get 6 million employers signed up in 2 years.

The Smith bill will hurt workers. The bill will invite discrimination by employers. Workers who lose their jobs due to problems with the new system can only sue the government for lost wages under the restrictive Federal Tort Claims Act.

Felony crime created with fines and prison time for knowing misuse by a worker or employer of a social security number or other identification. Ten-fold increase in fines for employers. The bill provides safe harbor provisions for employers who act in good faith.

The bill puts enormous burdens on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue millions of compliance letters to employers and employees. Anyone holding more than one job or who has an error in their records—easily millions of U.S. workers—could be blocked from working while they hassle with SSA to clear their records.


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. 11061509.