By a 20-10 vote along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 3711, Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-Texas) Legal Workforce Act. Within two years, all employers must use the online, free E-Verify check to confirm new employees’ legal authorization to work in the U.S. Currently optional for employers, E-Verify is nevertheless used by more than 700,000 employers and at more than 1.9 million hiring sites.
In his statement, Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) extolled the Legal Workforce Act’s benefits for American workers. Goodlatte said that by displacing the fraud-susceptible I-9 with a web-based data system that takes less than two minutes to complete, “it will preserve jobs for legal workers and prevent illegal immigration.”
Since more than 20 million Americans are unemployed or under-employed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ labor participation rate is at or near a historic 63.1 percent low, and about four million young Americans turn 18 and enter the jobs market annually, protecting U.S. workers is a top Trump administration priority.
The Legal Workforce Act, assuming the likelihood that it passes a full House vote, then will head to the Senate where its future is less certain. A companion bill, Senator Chuck Grassley’s Accountability through Electronic Verification Act is languishing with 11 cosponsors. But a variable that might help pass the bill: ten Senate Democrats must make 2018 re-election bids, some in states that voted heavily for President Trump.
Voting against E-Verify, and by definition against American workers, puts already vulnerable candidates more at risk.