Colorado House kills E-Verify bill

Article author: 
John Brick
Article publisher: 
Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform
Article date: 
May 6, 2016
Article category: 
Colorado News
High
Article Body: 
Once again this year the Colorado Legislature had the opportunity to insure that Colorado companies employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States. Colorado's job market often has problems with unauthorized employment because it has no verification system. This unlawful employment is a burden on taxpayers and takes jobs away from U.S citizens and legal foreign workers. 
 
Colorado State House Bill 16-1202 (HB16-1202) would have mandated that Colorado businesses use E-verify to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. By a vote of seven to two, two republicans joining five democrats, the House, State, Veterans Military Affairs Committee refused to move the bill forward to the House Appropriations committee. 

What is E-Verify?

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services describes E-verify as "an internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility."
 
E-verify is used by more than 600,000 employers of all sizes nationwide. The program is used at 1.9 million hiring sites. 1,400 new companies every week join one of the federal government's highest-rated services for customer satisfaction. Here in Colorado, 12,669 employers use E-verify. Colorado already require public contractors to use the system.
 
98.87% of employees of participating employers are confirmed to as authorized to work. This high number could be because applicants know they will be verified. Of the 1.13% of the initial mismatch, only .96% are found to be not work authorized. See the USCIS FY 2015 pie chart:
 
 
USCIS FY 2015 E-Verify success rate
 

Public testimony - in favor

The bill sponsor, State Representative Cole Wist, testified "The way to insure Colorado employers are hiring persons eligible to work in the U.S. is to use the federal database, that the state pays nothing to maintain, that is free for employers to use, and is already used by many employers to verify employees are eligible (E-Verify)."
 
Former State Representative Spencer Swam stated that "Americans are upset about bringing low paid workers to compete with American workers for jobs. A pew study says that many people have not had a pay raise adjusted for inflation since the seventies. Some of it is because we are flooding this country with cheap labor both legal and illegal. This bill makes sure people who work here are eligible to work here."
 
Citizen Phil Ross said the bill also "provides our state the mechanism to prevent unauthorized aliens in this country illegally to work in US jobs without social security numbers or using stolen numbers. HB16-1202 gives our state the mechanism to address these issues by requiring businesses to hire only authorized employees who's status was confirmed using E-verify. It modernizes the employment verification process. The bill would support honest local businesses and help decrease unlawful entry into our state."

Public testimony - opposed

Immigration Lawyer, Joy Athanasiou, said she had problems verifying her status through E-verify due to problems with Social Security's filing of her name on her marriage certificate. She said she has encountered others that had the same problem. She also mentioned the problem of Illegal aliens receiving false social security numbers.
 
Immigration Lawyer, Carol Hildebrand was concerned that there is no visa for temporary non immigrant category that are year round and less than a college degree where an employer has proved they cannot find a US worker. (The H-2B visa non immigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary non agricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak load or intermittent basis. H-2A visa is for agriculture.)
 
She went on to point out that the jobs illegal aliens fill are construction work, asphalt and roofing. They also do indoor jobs such as restaurant cooks, janitor, nursing home assistants, child care, dairy and house care work.
 
Cathy White of the Colorado Fiscal Institute worried that the need for high speed internet access would be a problem for some rural businesses. She said that as many as 1% of Colorado employees might have to fix problems with their employment documentation.

Lobbying

There were no organized groups lobbying in support of HB16-1202. Several lobbying groups opposed the measure including:
 
The Colorado Competitive Council, which lobbies on behalf of Chamber of Commerce's.
 
Colorado Oil and Gas Association
 
Colorado Health Partners
 
Colorado Restaurant Association
 
Colorado Farm Bureau
 
Jefferson County Businesses Lobby
 
Colorado Association of the YMCA
 
Farmers Insurance
 
Various energy and mining interests.
 
The opposition seemed to favor those who may hire illegal aliens or profit from illegal immigration.

The vote

An email was sent to all representatives who opposed HB16-1202. The email asked,"Inoticed you voted not to refer the e-verify bill HB16-1202 to the Appropriations Committee. What was your thinking to arrive at that decision?" None of these representatives responded. 
 
Opposing were Republicans Timothy Lenoard and Patrick Neville.
 
The Democratic opposition was; Sue Ryden, committee chair, Susan Lontine, vice chair, Mike Foote, Max Tyler, Dianne Primavera. Republicans Cole Wist and Steve Humphery voted in favor of the bill.
 
The committee then voted to postpone the measure indefinitely. Postponing indefinitely becomes the vote of record. This is a tactic used by state legislative committees to make it difficult for the public to see which way each committee members voted on an issue prior to the postponement vote. Most bills that are voted down are postponed indefinitely.

Conclusion

Colorado citizens suffer the added costs to health care, schools and the justice system from illegal immigration. It costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs - some $84 billion - are absorbed by state and local governments. A bill like HB16-1202 would have created and effective tool to lower local illegal immigration levels. Colorado's representatives should be working hard to make sure the job market favors Colorado workers who are authorized to work in the U.S. This fall it is critically important to elect representatives - democrat and republican - who will support E-verify.

CAIRCO Research