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FAIR is the largest immigration reform group in the country and has nearly 40 years experience providing journalists, radio and television broadcasters with background, research and perspective on immigration and related issues.




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Background

Sanctuary cities—state and local jurisdictions with policies that obstruct immigration enforcement—pose a serious threat to the safety of the American people. Although some “sanctuary” policies were enacted ten or more years ago, they finally received national media attention in the summer of 2015 after Kate Steinle was tragically shot and killed in San Francisco. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, is an illegal alien with seven convictions and five previous deportations. Importantly, Sanchez admitted he went to San Francisco because he knew it is a sanctuary city that would protect him from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

While San Francisco is the most notable sanctuary city, there are now some 300 of them throughout the country. Tellingly, the overwhelming majority of sanctuary jurisdictions have emerged since President Obama took office in 2009. This, of course, corresponds with President Obama’s systematic dismantling of immigration enforcement.

Moreover, in legislation enacted in 1996, Congress explicitly prohibited sanctuary policies that impede or obstruct immigration enforcement. Nevertheless, Congress has stood on the sidelines for years, allowing these jurisdictions to defy federal immigration law with impunity. Congress must act now, using its power of the purse, to deny federal funds to jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws.

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Background

Since passage of the law making it illegal to hire an illegal alien in1986, illegal aliens have used counterfeit documents, stolen Social Security numbers and fake passports to “prove” they are eligible to work in the U.S. A secure identification system to prove work eligibility is a key factor in combatting illegal immigration.

In order to be hired for a job in the United States, applicants must furnish a valid Social Security number or tax ID number. The data in each Social Security file contains sufficient information to determine whether the person using the number is the person to whom the number was issued. The technology is readily and cheaply available to verify that a new employee has presented a valid number and that it belongs to that person. The E-Verify system accomplishes this task.

E-Verify is currently a voluntary program for most employers. Thirteen states encourage or require its use. It is also being increasingly required for companies with government contracts. Most verifications take less than five minutes either online or by phone. 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.

The groups that oppose E-Verify do so because it works. Many business interest groups wish to continue employing illegal workers at a lower cost than U.S. citizens. However, they refuse to understand they are leaving Americans out of work in a time of high unemployment and providing cover and financing to transnational criminals and potential terrorists.

Employers should use E-Verify because it ensures they are only hiring individuals who are authorized to work in the United States. It’s free to use, and provides work eligibility results within three to five seconds. Mandatory use of E-Verify would also create a level playing field, ensuring that employers who play by the rules are not undercut by competitors who hire low wage illegal aliens. In addition to that, it also improves the accuracy of wage and tax reporting. E-Verify features a photo matching tool to combat document fraud and ensure that documents presented by employees are genuine.

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Background

Refugees are people who are authorized to come to the United States because they are determined to be fleeing individual persecution by their home government. To qualify as a refugee, a person must meet the following definition from Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act: “any person who... is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country [their home country] because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion....”

While the number of people the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognizes as valid refugees can grow exponentially overnight, the ability to relocate them in the U.S. or other Western democracies is very limited. There are many things to consider when determining how we should prioritize resettlement, including finding out who is in the most imminent danger, who is least likely to be able to return home, and who can be effectively screened to ensure they do not pose a danger to the United States.

Efforts on behalf of refugees should be re-targeted away from resettlement and toward helping displaced populations take temporary shelter as close to their home countries as possible. This is smart policy for two reasons.

First, the U.S. Committee for Refugees has estimated that a day’s worth of funding needed to settle a single refugee in the U.S. would cover the needs of at least 12 refugees abroad. Second, by allowing a mass migration of refugees with expedited screening, particularly those from places where religious or political violence is endemic, we open ourselves up to possible terrorist threats. Oftentimes we cannot perform proper screening or background checks on these refugees, because in some cases they arrive without any form of identification and hail from countries that are not cooperative with the U.S. Thus, it’s often nearly impossible to distinguish legitimate refugees from terrorists.

In 2016, roughly 85,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. Approximately 12,318 of them hailed from Syria, Iran and Sudan, countries considered “State Sponsors of Terrorism” by the U.S. State Department. The Obama administration has promised to dramatically increase the number of refugees it’s admitting while greatly reducing the screening process, from 12 to 18 months to three. This greatly increases the risk to all Americans.

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