“Regardless of how secure we make the border, if illegal aliens can easily obtain gainful employment, they’ll continue to find their way into the state of Texas in large numbers,” testified R.J. Hauman, general counsel for Texans for Strong Borders, on behalf of Senate Bill 1621.
SB 1621 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) would require state contractors, local governments, and private employers to participate in E-Verify, a federal program that verifies whether a new employee has authorization to work in the United States.
Although federal law already requires employers to verify whether an employee is permitted to work in the U.S. by examining documentation confirming identity and authorization to work in the country, the E-Verify system further requires that the employer then enter the information provided by the new employee into the federal database for confirmation of working eligibility.
Texas currently requires that the state government and institutions of higher education use E-Verify to ensure legal employment.
Chris Russo, president of Texans for Strong Borders, argues that mandating usage of E-Verify “would vastly reduce the demand for illegal labor and cut off a key incentive that keeps would-be illegal entrants coming to the United States and providing a massive cash infusion into cartel coffers in the process.”
To this end, Hauman says requiring E-Verify will help disincentivize illegal border crossings as well as help “protect Americans from identity theft and remove[s] the competitive disadvantage that employers have by hiring cheap foreign labor.”
“This bill removes the important driver of illegal immigration and protects American workers,” concluded Hauman. “The State of Texas has no choice but to act decisively to address the historic crisis being intentionally exacerbated by the actions of the federal government.”
Both Corbin Van Arsdale, president and general counsel for Associated General Contractors of Texas Building Branch, and Steven Albright of the group’s Heavy, Highway, & Utilities division, told the committee that they are concerned with possible penalties listed in the measure since they cannot verify subcontractors employees.
James Massa, CEO of Numbers USA, explained the E-Verify system is free, easy to use, and won’t burden employers:
E–Verify is the most effective and most cost-effective method that the state of Texas can implement, to be able to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and to be able to ensure that U.S. citizens and those who have valid work permits in the state of Texas are the ones who get the jobs of this great economy.
SB 1621 was left pending in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee.
The Texas House will be considering several pieces of border security legislation Wednesday in the State Affairs Committee.