E-Verify Proposal Offers a Sweetener; Will Democrats Take It?
A group of Republican senators wants to mandate that all U.S. businesses use the federal E-Verify employment-screening program. To entice Democratic support, their bill would also raise the federal minimum wage to $11 over the next five years.
“Despite rising costs of living, the federal minimum wage has not been increased in more than a decade,” stated co-sponsor Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. “Requiring employers to use E-Verify would ensure that the wage increase goes to legal workers, which would protect American jobs and eliminate a key driver of illegal immigration.”
Nine states currently require all employers to use E-Verify. Thirteen other states require E-Verify for selected public or private employment.
The remaining 28 states have no E-Verify laws. At the extreme is California, where it is unlawful for public agencies to require electronic employment verification like E-Verify. However, some California businesses on federal contracts must use E-Verify, and voluntary use in the private sector of the Golden State numbered 274,251 sites, according to U.S. government data.
The gaping gaps in employment verification were highlighted by the Center for Immigration Studies, which estimates that 9 million illegal aliens are in the U.S. workforce. This must be considered a low-ball figure because CIS calculations were based on an illegal-alien population estimate of 12.6 million. FAIR estimates that number at 16.8 million.
Another new report notes that higher levels of migration into the U.S. in 2022 and 2023 have dampened wage gains by inflating the labor supply. Fitch Rating said year-over-year wage growth of all private industry employees is slowing, and that pay rates in the leisure and hospitality sector — a prime employer for foreign workers — have “declined significantly.”
Overall gains in average hourly earnings are now running lower than they were for most of the last year of the Trump presidency. And those increases are worth far less to workers because inflation is so much higher now.
Though FAIR takes no position on the minimum wage proposal, it has long supported E-Verify as a much-needed and effective tool to achieve workplace integrity.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., chief sponsor of the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, said, “American workers today compete against millions of illegal immigrants for too few jobs with wages that are too low — that’s unfair. Ending the black market for illegal labor will open up jobs for Americans. Raising the minimum wage will allow Americans filling those jobs to better support their families. Our bill does both.”
In a logical world, congressional Democrats, who constantly clamor for boosting the minimum wage while bemoaning the plight of the working class, would get on board.