This spring the anti-business Senate Democrats attempted to bring a bill to the floor of the State Senate, Senate Bill (SB) 600, which would have penalized employers for hiring illegal immigrants. The truth of the matter is, the legislation would do little to nothing to stop the hiring of illegal immigrants, but would severely impact businesses across Wisconsin. My Democrat opponent, Dwayne Block, is now attempting to smear me with misleading postcards and newspaper ads on this issue.
The federal government created a pilot program for electronic verification (E-Verify) of immigration status. The system has been criticized for being overly complex, administratively burdensome, and subject to fraud and identity theft.
The E-Verify system checks the name and Social Security number a worker provides to an employer and the system checks whether or not the information matches what is in the government’s database. The major problem with this system is that it can’t tell you if the documents provided to the employer are fraudulent or not. The system also has a high error rate, as high as 10 percent, falsely identifying legal workers as illegal. These false reports can be challenged; however, the General Accounting Office (GAO) testified before Congress that they do not have sufficient staff to complete this secondary verification if nationwide usage increases.
Employers are prohibited by federal law from firing workers before their illegal status is verified. If the federal government cannot confirm their status in a timely manner and a worker who is here legally is wrongly fired, the business could be sued for federal civil rights violations. SB 600 would put Wisconsin businesses in the untenable situation of having to choose whether to violate state or federal law.
The solution is a bipartisan effort in Congress called the New Employee Verification Act. This would replace the current verification process with a paperless, reliable electronic verification system. If they had been serious about working on the problem of illegal immigration, they wouldn’t have waited until the day before the end of session to bring the bill up for consideration. I look forward to Congress taking action so that in the next legislative session, Wisconsin can work on legislation that will address hiring of illegal immigrants without penalizing employers who are trying to do the right thing.
Federal law also preempts states in this area. Specifically, the Federal Immigration Reform and Control act states that it preempts, “any state of local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit, or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens.”
A law similar to what the Democrats proposed was recently struck down in Oklahoma. Wisconsin businesses would likely face extensive legal costs in trying to comply with this poorly thought out legislation had it been enacted.
Thank you for letting me set the record straight.
Senator Scott Fitzgerald