All Oregon government agencies should use E-Verify
Published: Saturday, February 04, 2012, 10:13 AM
By David Olen Cross
Oregon’s lawmakers have an opportunity during the February legislative session to help unemployed Oregonians by passing House Bill 4052, which requires all state government agencies to use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services E-Verify system.
Sponsored by Reps. Kim Thatcher, Jeff Barker, Vicki Berger, Katie Eyre Brewer, Sal Esquivel, Tim Freeman, Sherrie Sprenger, Jim Thompson, Gene Whisnant and Matt Wingard, HB4052 would put the state of Oregon more in line with the federal government, which requires all federal agencies use the U.S. E-Verify system.
The state legislature requiring all state agencies use the E-Verify system would not be a matter of starting from scratch for the State of Oregon because all or portions of six state agencies already use the E-Verify system (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Military Department, Oregon Parks and Recreation, Oregon Corrections Enterprises, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Oregon Health Science University, and Portland State University).
The importance of the E-Verify legislation really becomes apparent when looking at Oregon’s unemployment rate for December 2011, which was 8.9 percent, putting the state in the top 14 of 50 states for percentage of unemployed residents; 175,830 Oregonians were unemployed. Legislators should also be aware that Oregon’s unemployed are in competition for scarce jobs with an estimated 97,000 foreign national workers illegally in the state, 4.9 percent of the state’s domestic workforce.
If Oregon’s state legislators need some convincing examples of E-Verify system success stories, they won’t have to look too far. At least 17 states have laws requiring their state governments to use the E-Verify system; nine of those states had December 2011 seasonally adjusted unemployment rates lower than Oregon: Alabama (8.1 percent), Arizona (8.7 percent), Idaho (8.4 percent), Missouri (8.0 percent), Nebraska (4.1 percent), Oklahoma (6.1 percent), Tennessee (8.7 percent), Utah (6.0 percent) and Virginia (6.2 percent).
State legislators need not look beyond Oregon for E-Verify system success stories, because 15 of 36 Oregon county governments use the E-Verify system (Clatsop, Coos, Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill counties).
Statewide, 2,787 Oregon public and private sector employers are successfully using the 98.6 percent accurate, fast response time, user-free E-Verify system.
Requiring the state of Oregon — the largest public employer — to use the E-Verify system would be far beyond being a symbolic gesture by legislators, considering that over the past four years Oregonians have suffered and continue to suffer unemployment numbers not seen since the Great Depression.
Oregonians should call or email their state senator and representative and ask them to support and pass HB4052, legislation requiring all state of Oregon government agencies to use the U.S. E-Verify system. Then if a state job becomes available, a qualified person with authorization to work in the country will be first in line for that job.
David Olen Cross of Salem (email@example.com) lobbies the Oregon Legislature on issues related to immigration and foreign national crime.