What on Earth has happened? Talk about super, hyper, bare faced chutzpah! Perfidy, thy name is Congress.
We surely need to update the saying attributed to late Illinois Senator Ev Dirksen about "a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you're talking real money" by just adding three more zeros to this massive bailout bill which now does not protect us from having at least 300,000 of those stimulus jobs go to illegal aliens.
But more specifically, look at the US Senate—it refused to extend, even for a brief time, the most successful immigration reform program ever, E-verify, even for a few months. That's what 50 of our elected Senators decided, all Democrats I am ashamed to say except one Independent (of what? Not money!) when they voted to table the amendment to the Stimulus Bill (#604).
Hooray for those Democrats who voted not to table, Webb, Baucus, Bayh, McCaskill, Klobuchar, Testar, and Nelson. The vote was close, 50 to 47, but what a defeat this is!
As Newsmax.com reported in its March 12, 2009 piece, (E-Verify Clings to Life Despite No New Funding", by Dave Eberhart):
"A controversial program that has won bipartisan support for stemming the flood of illegal workers is clinging to life despite the Senate's refusal to extend the program.
"Although Congress failed to re-authorize the E-Verify program during deliberations of the omnibus spending bill, E-Verify has the funding it needs to operate through September.
"The FY 2009 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security has some fine print that may keep E-Verify alive until September 30, 2009, reports the Heritage Foundation. E-Verify gives employers an online database they can use to verify that a prospective employee is legally qualified to work in the United States."
However, this failure in light of our extreme economic conditions is ever more an indication of the power of multinationals to call the tune of in our dysfunctional democracy. Over 70% of American citizens want true immigration reform and our Federal government just says, "Sit down and shut up, folks, we are in charge and you get to pay the trillions of dollars of bills we run up–heh, heh."
As the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) so neatly shows us, the dirty campaign to smear E-verify continues and will continue. (Really, why bother, the paid off Federal legislature feels smugly able to say "So what" to us citizens). However, let's review what FAIR's web site tells us.
"Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the cheap labor/open borders lobby employed a massive disinformation campaign to derail efforts to include E-Verify requirements in the economic stimulus bill. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose membership benefits from hiring illegal aliens, along with other lobby groups repeatedly made false and misleading assertions about the E-Verify program.
"FICTION: E-Verify is cumbersome and costly to American businesses.
"FACT: Most verifications are carried out in about two minutes, either online or by phone. There is no cost to employers who use the system. Today, more than 100,000 U.S. employers are currently enrolled and using E-Verify and 13 states have enacted laws encouraging or requiring use of E-Verify for state contractors, state employees, and, in some cases, for all.
"FICTION: E-Verify is fraught with errors. Opponents of E-Verify claim the system has a 4 percent error rate, which could result in thousands of eligible workers being denied jobs.
"FACT: E-Verify has a 0.4 percent (four-tenths of one percent) error rate. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, which runs E-Verify, reports that 96.1 percent of verifications are approved on the first try. Of the remaining 3.9 percent, most delays are due to discrepancies between information presented by job applicants and information in the Social Security Administration database, such as unreported name changes due to marriage. The majority of these discrepancies are resolved within 24 to 72 hours and do not prevent eligible workers from being hired.
"FACT: The interest groups that oppose E-Verify do so for one reason: E-Verify works! E-Verify is the single most effective tool to discourage illegal immigration and hold employers accountable, which is why the illegal immigration lobby wants it eliminated."
This latest in a series of attacks by our Congress on our democracy and our very existence as a nation needs a reply from all of us.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.