August 4th, 2008 by Kevin
I wrote previously about how E-Verify, despite being one of the most useful tools in enforcing our immigration laws, was being blocked by Democrats in Congress. In fact, it was at risk of being terminated due to lack of funding. The E-Verify program expires in November, and legislation to reauthorize it has to pass both the House and Senate before the fall (August) recess.
While one big hurdle remains, progress was made last week. In response to increasing public pressure, shortly before retiring for a month recess, the US House passed H.R. 6633, led by Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ.). This bill while not perfect, includes a number of provisions, which should hopefully at least maintain the status quo on immigration. Unfortunately, from this Congress, not making things worse is about as good as we can expect.
Essentially this bill reauthorizes E-Verify for five years. This takes us to the next presidential race, and provides the chance for presidential politics to interfere. While if it had stayed at 10 years reauthorization, as it originally was, it would have removed that cost and taken us beyond the next presidency.
It also includes a number of provisions that prevents backhanded attempts to exploit loopholes to prevent the funding E-Verify. The bill allows the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to use money to fund E-Verify if the Homeland Security Department doesn\’t provide them on time. But it also requires the Homeland Security department to make advance payments to the Social Security Administration for the operation of E-Very.
Several legislators have been trying to put in provisions that prevented the Social Security Administration from spending funds on the program, while also not requiring the Homeland Security Department to pay for it. This would have essentially allowed the Homeland Security Department to kill the program despite it being reauthorized by Congress. And with our current President and either of our two possible new Presidents, that is a very very likely outcome.
However, one very big hurdle remains….namely the US Senate.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has placed a hold legislation to reauthorize E-Verify. As I noted before
On Thursday, Senate staffers reported to FAIR that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is blocking the reauthorization of E-Verify in the Senate because he considers it to be a pro-business program that gives businesses a safe harbor. Since its inception in 1996, E-Verify has proven to be an effective and useful tool in protecting legal workers and the individuals who hire them.
The Senate needs to vote on this piece of legislation soon, because the current authorization for the program expires in November. Between the time it takes for the Senate to do anything, reconcile their bill with the House and then give it to the President to sign, this needs to be accomplished very quickly.
You can let Senator Menendez what you think by calling him at the following numbers:
DC Office – (202) 224-4744
Newark Office – (973) 645-3030
Minnesotans you can also call your Senators at:
Senator Coleman (202) 224-5641
Senator Klobuchar (202) 224-3244
And then you can call Senate leadership at:
Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) (202) 224-2158
Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (202) 224-3135
Otherwise the Senate Switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121.