State use of E-verify system would aid unemployed
9:00 PM, Feb. 3, 2012 |
David Olen Cross
Oregon’s state senators and representatives during the 2012 state legislative session have an opportunity to help unemployed Oregonians by passing House Bill 4052, requiring all state government agencies to use the U.S. Citizen 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, HB 4052 would put the state of Oregon more in line with the federal government that requires all federal agencies to use E-verify.
This would not be a matter of starting from scratch because all or portions of six state agencies already use it (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Military Department, Parks and Recreation, Oregon Corrections Enterprises, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Oregon Health Science University and Portland State University).
The importance of passing E-verify legislation really becomes apparent when looking at Oregon’s unemployment rate for December 2011 being at 8.9 percent, ranking the state in the top 14 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 work force.
If Oregon legislators need convincing examples of E-verify success stories, they won’t have to look far because at least 17 states require 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).
Fifteen of 36 Oregon county governments use E-verify (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.
The Legislature’s passage of HB 4052 would be far more than a symbolic gesture, considering that over the last 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 HB 4052, legislation requiring all state of Oregon government agencies to use the CIS E-verify system, so if a job opening becomes available to work for the state, a qualified person with authorization to work in the country will be first in line for that job.
David Olen Cross of Salem lobbies the Oregon Legislature on issues related to immigration and foreign-national crime. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.