View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: E-Verify: Easy, Free, Fast And 99.5 Percent Accurate
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Depending on whether you listened to President Barack Obama during his campaign or the early days of his administration, he's promised to create or save at least 3 or as many as 5 million jobs.

A recently released report from Obama's Council of Economic Advisors stated that 500,000 jobs could be created by making new investments in clean energy, nearly 400,000 jobs might come through upgrading infrastructure by building and repairing roads, schools and bridges. And an additional 200,000 jobs should be created in health care by developing a nationwide system of computerized medical records.

Said Obama:

"The jobs we create will be in businesses large and small across a wide range of industries. And they'll be the kind of jobs that don't just put people to work in the short term, but position our economy to lead the world in the long term." [Obama Again Raises the Estimate of How Many Jobs His Stimulus Plan Will Create or Save, By Jeff Zeleny,and David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, January 10, 2009]

Putting aside my skepticism that anything even approaching two million jobs will come from Obama's stimulus program, I'll address instead what is crucial: that any and all employment generated by government-funded job creation programs go to US citizens or legal residents authorized to work.

Taxpayer funded programs to put Americans back to work that might instead create jobs for non-legal workers would be the last straw for the beleaguered country

Over the last several decades, in every corner of the U.S. economy, employees not legally authorized to work have gotten and kept good jobs.

In some cases, they are illegal aliens working in construction. Others entered the country on non-immigrant visas but when those visas expired, they never returned home. Somewhere today, they hold a job an American should have.

But despite its long history of creating ineffectual, expensive and unwieldy programs, the federal government's E-Verify system will confirm within seconds whether a prospective employee is legal.

E-verify is a free, Internet-based system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to check the work status of new hires.

By comparing information from an employee's I-9 form against SSA and Department of Homeland Security databases, in more than 93 percent of the cases E-Verify will within seconds send a status confirmation to employers.

Most of the 5.8 percent who received a tentative non-confirmation requiring more investigative time turned out to be illegal aliens.

And only 0.5 percent that received a tentative non-confirmation are U.S. citizens or authorized foreign workers. Among them, many made reporting errors such as a woman not notifying SSA of a name change after marriage.

E-Verify's accuracy rate is, according to a 2007 independent study, 99.5 percent.

Despite its advantages, powerful forces are working to discredit E-Verify. Some opponents come from predictable places like the pro-immigration lobby and immigration lawyers.

According to Tyler Moran of the National Immigration Law Center, "Requiring businesses to enroll in E-Verify could only slow the influx of money and jobs into the economy. It is going to delay the stimulus. It doesn't belong here."[Groups Aim to Protect US Jobs in Stimulus, by Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2009]

But in her statement, Moran errs in several places. Her most egregious misrepresentation is that employers will have to spend considerable time in E-Verify implementation. Wrong—by using only one staff person for only a few hours, an entire company can complete its E-Verify enrollment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a long time supporter of hiring illegal aliens, joins immigration lawyers in its criticism of E-Verify. The Chamber issued a 27- page report calling it "misguided, premature and unwarranted" and claiming that it would cost citizens jobs.

But Capitol Hill E-Verify supporters challenge the Chamber—or anyone else opposed—to identify one single case where an American citizen has been denied employment because of the program. To date, no one has come forward.

Finally, a small handful of Congressmen including most prominently New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and Representative Zoe Lofgren want to keep E-Verify out of any hiring requirements for federal contractors.

And although President Bush signed an executive order mandating it for those contractors, the Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit. Accordingly, the Obama administration has delayed its final decision until at least May 21. 

But Lodi employers don't need to wait. Those committed to maintaining a legal workforce can and should voluntarily enroll today. Remember: E-Verify is easy, free, fast and just a tick under 100 percent reliable.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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