Republicans in the US House of Representatives are trying to force a vote on the incredibly mis-named “Save America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007.” They claim it would help stop illegal immigration by ensuring that employers only hire legal workers. They claim a lot of benefits, but they're wrong.
What would the SAVE Act save?
- Not your privacy: the bill would set up a massive database with huge amounts of personal data about all American workers.
- Not your identity: all employers would have access to the information in this database – and so would anyone who could hack into it.
- Not your job: the program relies on the error-ridden Social Security database. The SSA itself admits that up to 10% of its records have errors. Furthermore, the SAVE act requires employers to penalize or fire any citizen or legal resident whose information doesn't match the SSA database! Think of the infamous “no fly” list and how well that works. Do you want your job tied to the same sort of system?
- Not your tax money: The Congressional Budget Office says the bill will cost $40 billion over 10 years and could further swamp the overburdened Social Security Administration.
- Not small businesses: they would have to pay to get access to the database. That's less money they can spend on R&D, services, and health insurance for employees.
A recent report commissioned by DHS says the system could prevent nearly 1.35 million workers from starting their next jobs.
The intention is to eliminate illegal immigration by imposing penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. It's a valid goal; there would probably be fewer people coming here to get jobs if employers weren't hiring.
But never underestimate the ability of extremist Republicans (and not all House Republicans are) – and even some Democrats – to take a good idea and turn it into a nightmare of costs, bureaucratic snafus, and increased surveillance of American citizens.
Representative Bud Cramer (AL-05) is on the fence about his bill. Contact his office today to express your concerns.
Learn more about the SAVE act & the concerns it raises on the jump.
In an April 18 editorial, the New York Times opposes the bill, noting:
Immigration reform is always tricky, but employment verification is where the details get demonic.
According to the ACLU, which opposes the bill on privacy and civil liberties concerns,
The SAVE Act’s main component is to dramatically expand the government’s flawed E-Verify program.Currently,only about 55,000 of the nation’s 5.4 million employers participate in E-Verify.
However, the SAVE Act would mandate that every employer in the US “E-verify” the employment eligibility of every current and prospective employee–ensuring that millions of Americans will be denied the opportunity to work.
The SAVE Act would create a massive government database containing extraordinary amounts of personal information, with no privacy protections, about every person in the U.S.
The security and maintenance of such a database has proven ineffective and would be a likely target for identity theft for those undocumented workers who are desperate to stay in his country and keep working.
Bill sponsors GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo (remember him as GOP presidential candidate? He's still beating the immigration horse) and Democratic Rep. Heath Schuler are trying to get enough signatures on a discharge petition to have the bill brought to the House floor for a vote. They need 218 signatures; as of March 17th, they had 181.
If they get 218 signatures, the bill goes directly to the floor for a vote, with no prior debate or amendments.
Yes, illegal immigration is a problem in this country.
- For the immigrants themselves: by living and working in the shadows, it's easy for employers, landlords, and others to take advantage of them.
- For the US government: We do need to know who's in the country and who isn't a citizen.
- For American workers: Why hire a citizen who expects job protection, benefits, and fair treatment when you can exploit illegal workers and pay them less?
And yes again, if there are no jobs, then many immigrants won't come here. There's no mass migration of workers to Mexico or Haiti or any place with little opportunity. Instead, those workers want to come here to share in our prosperity. If employers don't hire them, then part of the problem in this country is solved.
But, I agree with the NYT: the “details get demonic” when you try to figure out how to implement a program to determine who's eligible to work and who isn't. Imagine the explosion in identity theft as desperate illegal workers try to stay in this country.
Imagine yourself, denied a job because your information came up as a “no match” and nobody will tell you what the problem is or help you fix it. Again, think of that “no fly” list where ordinary travelers are routinely mistaken for terrorists.
Travel security procedures tightened after the September 11 attacks have become a bane for more than 31,000 innocent people each year. Victims of the rigid rules have included babies, U.S. lawmakers, including Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and the musician Yusef Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens.
—–DHS tried to fix the problem, but see how well that worked.—-
The DHS TRIP program will require travelers who want a review to enter personal details, including their travel experience, on an online inquiry form. The form is then forwarded to a centralized office for review requests and sent on to the relevant DHS agency. The U.S. government estimates that each traveler would spend about an hour filling out and submitting the form.
In an early embarrassment for the DHS, users of the new complaint form found that it did not operate via a secure link when it was launched on February 20.
No-fly restrictions might mess up your holiday or vacation plans. The SAVE database could cost your your job. And you may never realize it. There are no guidelines for employers on how to use the database.
Suppose you apply for the “perfect” position and your resume is one of 100 the company received. Does the company run everybody through the SAVE database before interviewing or only after an applicant is selected? If they do it before interviewing and you come up “no match” you may never know there's a problem. The employer has no obligation to alert you. Your resume goes in that garbage can and perhaps many others too.
Bud Cramer is being pressured to sign the discharge petition, but hasn't yet. He needs to hear from 5th District voters on the matter.
Immigration is a huge issue that needs reform. But this bureaucratic boondoggle isn't the way to do it.