Buy American-Hire American Flops in Florida
By Shari Rendall | April 19, 2018
The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which meets once every 20 years to determine which Constitutional amendments will be placed on the ballot, denied Florida voters the opportunity to support an E-Verify proposal in November, 2018. This proposal would have ensured individuals hired for Florida jobs were authorized to work in the U.S. On April 16, putting the business lobby before Florida workers, the CRC defeated E-Verify by a 12 to 24 vote.
Introduced by Commissioner Rich Newsome, the E-Verify proposal would have allowed employers to authenticate the legal work eligibility of prospective applicants using the federal electronic verification program, the same way a merchant verifies a credit card purchase. Commissioner Newsome pushed his proposal because it “would help legal workers who face ‘suppressed wages’ because of undocumented immigrants who are willing to take less money.”
The E-Verify proposal appeared to have early momentum within the CRC. Over 7,500 Floridians signed the petition to place E-Verify on the November ballot. In addition, two CRC Committees (the General Provisions and Executive) unanimously passed the E-Verify Proposal and the full Commission voted 19 to 13 to send it to the Style and Drafting Committee.
This early momentum was not surprising since Americans overwhelmingly support E-Verify. A Washington Post-ABC news polls in September 2017 found 79 percent support requiring employers to verify “all new hires are living in the United States legally, including 61 percent who strongly support the requirement.” The public support for E-Verify, according to Jack Oliver, Founder and Director for Floridians for E-Verify Now, was clear in one of the early public hearings where a CRC Commissioner noted that Proposal #29 was garnishing 25 percent of the total public response for all the proposals pending before the Commission.
In fact, President Donald Trump’s victory over former Senator Hillary Clinton in Florida directly taps into the belief held by most Americans – American jobs should go to American workers. He was able to win the “white working-class” that was “ignored and marginalized for too long by the political class.” Likewise, in 2010, Governor Rick Scott, in his successful gubernatorial race, called for E-Verify for all employers. After significant pushback from businesses, particularly agriculture, Governor Scott signed an executive order only requiring state agencies to use E-Verify for new hires.
Similarly, the CRC E-Verify proposal received the same opposition faced by Governor Scott. Despite federal laws already prohibiting the employment of unauthorized workers, powerful CEO’s called the E-Verify proposal “anti-jobs” as well as claimed it would destroy the Florida’s economy leaving “crops rotting and unharvested.” However, FAIR research shows that every state (except Tennessee) that has enacted or expanded E-Verify after 2008 saw their unemployment rate drop afterwards, even when that national rate increased.