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Elizabeth Van Staaveren

A bill that would help Oregon’s unemployed and underemployed citizens directly and at little cost to the state is languishing because House leadership will not allow a hearing on it.

Sponsored by Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) and Rep. Jodi Hack (R-Salem), it is HB 2043, calling for employers to verify the legal status of new hires, by using the federal E-Verify program prior to deducting expenses related to the worker’s employment from Oregon taxable income.

Citizens should not have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs. Whose interests should come first with legislators — citizens or illegal aliens?

One has to wonder why the Democratic Party, so long considered the champion of average American workers, today appears instead to have more sympathy and concern for illegal alien workers.

The widespread hiring of illegal aliens has caused wage depression across the board, in construction work and many other occupations.

Some media report that prosperity is nearly here, and downplay persistent unemployment among citizens and the problems of those with jobs who are paid so poorly that many need public assistance to supplement their wages. Unemployment is especially serious among the young, blacks, the less educated, and veterans. Many college graduates have to seek work of any kind, related or unrelated to their education.

E-Verify is a federal program in operation successfully on a voluntary basis for more than 10 years. It enables employers to verify, at no cost to them, that their new hires are legally entitled to work in this country. The program enjoys a high approval rating from participants.

As of April 1, 2014, more than 3,400 Oregon employers, each with five or more employees, have enrolled in the program. These employers can post a logo for customers to see, attesting to participation in the E-Verify program, and many do post this logo. There are probably, in fact, many more than 3,400 Oregon employers now using E-Verify because employers with fewer than five employees are not included in the publicly searchable database maintained by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Present law limits E-Verify to verification of new hires only, so some participating employers may still have some employees without legal status who were hired prior to the employer’s enrollment.

Recently E-Verify added an option enabling citizens to test their Social Security number in the E-Verify program to confirm accuracy — thus anyone can make certain in advance that one’s standing as a legal worker is intact.

Claims that E-Verify isn’t ready for expansion or isn’t sufficiently accurate are incorrect and usually made by those who oppose any effective impediments to illegal immigration. With its many years of experience and approval from enrolled employers, E-Verify is an invaluable protection for American workers.

Democratic and Republican legislators and Oregon voters, take notice, please! Four bills have been introduced in the Oregon Legislature this year calling for use of E-Verify in Oregon. Three limit the application to state agencies and contractors of state agencies. Of the four bills, HB 2043 offers the greatest benefit to job-seeking Oregon citizens because it applies to all Oregon employers.

This is an easy, much-needed step to reverse the growing use of illegal labor, a trend that leads to open borders, an end to nationhood and citizenship. Oregonians and other U.S. citizens do not want that. Legislators and voters, time is slipping by — hear HB 2043 now, and pass this bill.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren, of McMinnville, is a longtime member of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. She previously lived in the Washington, D.C., area, where she was employed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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