May 6, 2009
OFIR Members and Supporters:
Many of you called, faxed and emailed Sen. Ron Wyden’s office about the E-Verify program last February and March, when re-authorization for E-Verify was before the Senate. Recently, several OFIR members received an identical, emailed letter from the Senator concerning his position on the E-Verify extension. The letter contains several statements that need rebuttal or clarification. Sen. Wyden’s letter is shown below, with OFIR’s comments on particular statements inserted in Bold font to identify them.
You can review Sen. Wyden’s voting record on immigration bills on the NumbersUSA website at: http://profiles.numbersusa.com/improfile.php3?DistSend=OR&VIPID=667 He has been in Congress since 1981, first in the House of Representatives and later in the Senate. His immigration voting record is graded F. See grades for the Oregon Congressional delegation at http://grades.betterimmigration.com/delegation.php3?District=OR
From Sen. Ron Wyden, by email, 5-4-09
Dear [OFIR member]
Thank you for contacting me about the E-Verify program. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
I believe we need to reform U.S. immigration law and policy, and I hope to do so this session of Congress.
The primary need is for enforcement of the present laws against illegal immigration. Lax enforcement and previous amnesties have led to huge waves of illegal immigration. Please spell out in more detail what you mean by reforming U.S. immigration law and policy. If you mean “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which you voted for in 2007, please say so.
The federal government, and employers, must stop turning a blind eye to immigration law violations. Because of this, I have been a supporter of common sense efforts to help businesses ensure the legal status of their workers.
Kindly name the common sense efforts you’ve supported to help businesses ensure the legal status of their workers. There are very few of them in your immigration voting record, as shown by Americans for Better Immigration, http://profiles.numbersusa.com/improfile.php3?DistSend=OR&VIPID=667.
Some groups have put out some misinformation about my position on E-Verify, so please allow me to correct the record. I supported the establishment of E-Verify in 2004, and I have supported several extensions of the program.
Please cite the groups and the misinformation referred to. The voting records maintained by Numbers USA are detailed and accurate. http://profiles.numbersusa.com/ If you refer to statements by OFIR, please cite the specific statement that you consider to be misinformation. We do not believe OFIR has issued misinformation.
The date you give, 2004, for establishment of the E-Verify program, is questionable. Here is an accurate history of the E-Verify program, taken from the DHS website: An employment verification requirement was part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Ten years later, Congress authorized the INS to test several pilot projects to assist compliance. The final funded pilot, an electronic employment eligibility verification system connected to government databases, first referred to as the Basic Pilot, was re-branded by USCIS in 2007 as E-Verify. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/cisomb_everify_recommendation_2008-12-22.pdf
I recently voted for the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act that extends E-Verify for another 6 months,
On March 10, 2009, Sen. Wyden voted to table an amendment that would have reauthorized E-Verify for 5 years. http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00093#top
Holding E-Verify to such a temporary status weakens it, discouraging participation. Opponents of E-Verify can now hold up its further extension by trying to tie it to amnesty in an effort to force passage of amnesty on an unwilling public.
- giving Congress time to fix a variety of reported problems from a host of reputable employers, including notable Oregon ones. In particular, there are concerns with E-Verify’s current accuracy.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, reporting on E-Verify in January 2009, stated that currently, 99.6% of all work-authorized employees are verified without receiving a tentative nonconfirmation or having to take any type of corrective action. In order words, the program is 99.6% accurate. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3df0f3addb6be110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD&vgnextchannel=8a2791daff2df110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD
On April 2, 2009, a top CIS official testified to Congress that of all the cases verified through E-Verify, only 3.9% resulted in a mismatch. Of that 3.9%, 0.4 percent of queries were those who were issued a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) and successfully contested the case. The remaining 3.5% found not work authorized either did not contest the TNC, were unsuccessful in contesting or were found unauthorized to work at the secondary verification stage.
In NumbersUSA’s report, The Biggest 2 Lies About E-Verify, Arguments Opponents Use to Keep Hiring Illegal Liens, Roy Beck says:
Rosemary Jenks, the lawyer who heads up NumbersUSA’s Capitol Hill Team, has repeatedly and publicly issued a challenge to the media and open-borders advocates to produce even one example of an American losing a job because the E-Verify system wrongly ordered it.
If it turned out that of millions of transactions a year, there were 10 or 20 mistakes, we would be concerned but also find that to be an understandably tiny problem.
But, to date, opponents have NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND an example of even ONE AMERICAN who lost a job due to problems with E-Verify.
For example, almost 13 percent of workers that Intel Corporation ran through E-Verify in 2008 could not be initially confirmed.
You don’t say how long it took to clear up any problems with the 13 percent; maybe it took only a day or two. That could be only a minor inconvenience. Maybe a good part of the 13% actually were not work-authorized. Anyhow, the Intel case of 2008 does not necessarily reflect the efficiency of E-Verify in March 2009 when you voted against a 5-year extension.
For that reason, during debate on the 2009 omnibus, I voted against an amendment that would have extended the E-Verify program for another 6 years because it would have closed off any opportunity to listen to Oregon’s businesses on how to fix the problems.
The Amendment would NOT have closed off any opportunity to listen to Oregon’s businesses about their experiences with E-Verify. The Program is continually working to improve efficiency; it is not frozen into a unchangeable pattern. It’s ridiculous to pretend that. Your statement here is preposterous.
However, I want to be clear that the omnibus bill I voted for keeps E-Verify in place for another 6 months, and gives Congress time to consider improvements to the program before enacting a long-term extension.
Again, by restricting E-Verify to a life-line of only 6 months, Congress damaged this excellent and much-needed program by implying that it lacks credibility, hurting its reputation, demoralizing the E-Verify staff, and discouraging employers from using E-Verify. The program had been growing extremely rapidly on a purely voluntary basis. As of April 2, when the CIS official testified to Congress, he reported that over 117,000 employers were enrolled and that an average of 1,000 more had been enrolling each week.
Please know that I support E-Verify, and that I will continue to oppose attempts to end this program.
Thank you for this promise to oppose attempts to end E-Verify. We hope you also intend to vote for adequate funding and against any crippling amendments restricting E-Verify’s operation. We hope you will not agree to tie passage of amnesty to approval of E-Verify’s extension. The two subjects are separate and should not be considered together in any kind of “comprehensive” package.
Again, thank you for keeping me apprised of your interest in this issue. If I may be of further service to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
United States Senator