Massachusetts Committee to Consider Mandatory E-Verify for All Employers
FAIR Take | November 2023
In the Massachusetts Legislature, the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hold a hearing on November 14 on three crucial bills that will ensure an authorized workforce in Massachusetts. The Joint Committee is made up of six senators from the state senate and 11 representatives from the state house.
House Bill (HB) 1866, ”An Act Protecting Massachusetts Workers” sponsored by Representative David Decoste, and its Senate companion (SB) 1169, sponsored by Senator Ryan Fattman, protect American workers by ensuring that employees are work authorized. These bills require that all businesses in Massachusetts use the federal E-Verify program when hiring employees. E-Verify allows employers to electronically confirm a potential employee’s work eligibility by matching his/her Social Security number or work authorization information against pre-existing records. These bills will expand the current law in Massachusetts which already requires E-Verify for state agencies.
In addition to the Act Protecting American Workers, the Joint Committee will also consider Senator Fattman’s bill Senate Bill (SB) 1167. Entitled “An Act Encouraging Employer Integrity in Hiring,” SB 1167 establishes consequences for employers by making it a crime for an employer to intentionally falsify employment or citizenship documents of any alien. The bill also imposes criminal fines for such activity and increases the potential jail time for repeat offenses.
These bills that crack down on illegal workers are crucial to slowing the influx of migrants drawn to Massachusetts. As a “right to shelter state” and also a sanctuary state, Massachusetts is a magnet for illegal immigration. Massachusetts became a sanctuary state in 2017 when Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court decided, in Lunn v. Commonwealth, that state and local law enforcement cannot honor federal immigration detainers.
This Joint Committee Hearing is especially important given Governor Maura Healey’s response to the crisis facing her state. Rather than implementing policies that deter illegal immigration, in September she sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting changes to the work authorization process to allow these migrants to secure work faster in order to reduce the burden on the state’s shelter system and to “address the state’s workforce needs.”
However, Governor Healey’s proposal to speed up the work authorization for these migrants is likely to backfire on her. Lowering scrutiny when granting work permits will encourage even more illegal aliens to go to Massachusetts because even at the lowest wages, they would be making more money in the United States than they would in their home countries. And, taking jobs at lower wages impacts everyone in the state by depressing wages. According to George Borjas, a professor of economics and social policy at Harvard, wage trends over the past half-century suggest that a 10 percent increase in the number of workers with a particular set of skills probably lowers the wages of that group by at least 3 percent. Additionally, according to Professor Borjas, illegal immigration will create a fiscal hole of at least $50 billion because of the higher cost of all the services provided to them and the lower taxes they pay—a burden that falls on the native citizen population.
E-Verify will deter illegal aliens from coming to Massachusetts in the first place. Several studies show the number of recent immigrants fell by almost 40 percent when a state had a universal E-Verify law in effect.
“Making E-Verify mandatory … would open the door of opportunity to many of America’s most disadvantaged workers who have been systematically pushed out of the workforce by widespread illegal immigration,” according to FAIR’s President Dan Stein.