This past June the Haley Administration convinced Republicans in the South Carolina General Assembly to include a provision in an immigration reform bill that would mandate every business in the state to use E-Verify before hiring any worker. The South Carolina Small Business Chamber and some other business organizations strongly opposed the E-Verify mandate and were joined by leading members of the state’s Tea Party.
Our arguments that the mandate was an unfair burden on small business, many of which don’t have access to broadband, failed to change the mind of legislators who appeared to be more worried about passing an immigration bill than protecting small businesses. The bill passed with all but two Republican votes.
The battle on this issue has now shifted to the Congress where Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, has sponsored the Legal Workforce Act to mandate that all employers in the country use E-Verify to stop the hiring of undocumented workers. But now the solid GOP support that was shown in South Carolina is missing in the U.S. House.
A growing chorus of conservatives is hammering a Republican proposal requiring businesses to verify the legal status of the workers they hire. The conservative critics – including Republican lawmakers, Tea Party groups and border-state governors – are airing a long string of complaints: From fears the bill will erode civil liberties; to worries it will harm the agriculture industry; to concerns that it simply won’t work.
Even GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry opposes the federal legislation.
But while Congress might not pass a national E-Verify mandate, we still have the problem in South Carolina. A coalition of organizations is meeting to plan a strategy to stop the state’s immigration reform bill from going into effect.
While the Small Business Chamber did not oppose the entire legislation, the E-Verify mandate must be stopped. Legislatively removing it doesn’t look like a possibility and would take too long. A court challenge might be the only remedy.