Farmers must spend two-and-a-half months and hundreds of dollars getting approval from several state agencies and four federal agencies just to get one H2A worker on their land.
Hundreds of dollars? that's it? 2.5 months? That's more than enough time during the winter and growing season before harvest to get guest workers in. Perhaps if e-verify were mandated and there was increased penalties and enforcement of laws baring the hiring illegals,farmers would all of a sudden be able to find US citizens to work for them and be able to withstand the "grueling" process of legally bringing in guest workers.
I do agree that we should look at the role employers play on the demand side of the undocumented worker equation. Something I have learned in researching your allusion to e-verify:
That's the framework of a story Gregg Dourgarian posed when he sent me an email query about the subject, asking if I could do some research. Because anecdotally he says, he can confirm from visits with many staffing companies around the country, that e-verify actually serves as the perfect excuse for employers to get away with illegal hiring.
"Interestingly, I agree completely with the perspective of Leftists on this," Gregg told me. "They say Americans are being denied jobs in part because e-Verify makes it so easy for employers to use cheap illegals (see link). Where I disagree with them is whether any law can be effective for long in enforcing a market disequilibrium. Just like moonshine made it into the hands of the thirsty despite prohibition, cheap labor inside our borders will be sought out by employers despite e-Verify (or any other regulation)."
While approximately 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, 7 million individuals work illegally in the United States.
One of the posters on the site in the link Gregg refers to claims "employers don't want a system that would correctly identify unauthorized workers." He also says that except for situations of identity fraud detectable by the Photo Screening Tool, if the counterfeit documents are of reasonable quality and contain information about actual work-authorized persons who resemble the worker providing the documentation, the Form I-9 process and the E-Verify system will incorrectly confirm the bearer as work authorized.
"Just like moonshine made it into the hands of the thirsty despite prohibition, cheap labor inside our borders will be sought out by employers despite e-Verify (or any other regulation)."
"One might conclude, therefore," says the poster, "that this system does not work, or one might conclude that the system is working EXACTLY as intended. At a time when millions of Americans are out of work, this Bush-era program is spending millions to put foreign nationals to work in our labor force, while at the same time yielding an unacceptably high rate of rejection of legal, foreign-born citizens. A system that enables a foreign national to work with illegally obtained 'breeder' documents while denying work to foreign-born U.S. citizens who have followed all the rules is simply unacceptable."
Arizona, home to as many as 460,000 undocumented immigrants, has been one of the centers of the national debate about illegal immigration for years. Employment, in turn, is one of the focal points of the immigration discussion because most border-crossers come to the U.S. looking for jobs.
“There is no way to completely, 100 percent, prevent workers who are not authorized to work in the United States from being on the payroll,” said attorney Christy Hubbard in a 2010 article in the Arizona Republic, while she was working at Lewis & Roca law firm in Phoenix. “The reason why is that people have documents that make them look like they are authorized to work.”
Most hiring staffers aren’t fake-ID experts, and so even companies with good intentions can unwittingly break the law, right along with employers who intentionally flout the law.
“There is no way to completely, 100 percent, prevent workers who are not authorized to work in the United States from being on the payroll.”
Even though neither the state government nor the feds can audit every single business for compliance, others are watching. There is a website called e-verifywatchdog.com that lists Arizona companies they claim are in non-compliance with the Arizona Employer Sanctions law that requires businesses to use e-Verify. Similarly, there is also a link to this list of hundreds of businesses they claim are in compliance.
We didn't find any staffing companies in the non-compliant list, and found plenty listed among the compliant companies...
Although the federal government doesn't require businesses to use E-Verify (except for certain companies that have government contracts), the Legal Arizona Workers Act, a state law implemented in 2008, does.
I did find a staffing and recruiting firm in Colorado, another state with lots of undocumented immigrants, who was promoting their decision to participate in the e-Verify program.
J. Kent Staffing signed the MOU with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month, saying the company recognizes the importance of employing a legal workforce, particularly since many clients are holders of federal contracts.
With heightened awareness about Denver’s legal workforce, we have implemented the E-Verify program for the benefit of all J. Kent clients, for profit, non-profit, governmental contractors or entities in all our areas of Expertise. Although E-Verify Bill HR 2164 - The Legal Workforce Act* is requiring all employers to use the system phased-in over the next three years, we believe that E-Verify is a good, practical, business practice today. Conclusion: implementation at a later date serves no purpose. Therefore, effective February 17, 2012, all J. Kent staff members assigned to our Denver client companies are processed through E-Verify, a companion to Form I-9.
Participation in E-Verify is free and voluntary, and has been available for every business in the country since late 2004. More than 288,000 employers, large and small, across the United States use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of their employees, with about 1,200 new businesses signing up each week according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
We ran a shorter story in Staffing Talk last August asking whether in fact e-Verify "works." Here is what one reader left in the comments section of that story.
"Not only does it not work, but in many cases it is actually helping the illegals keep their jobs. In the construction trades many employers know that they are illegal but simply help them buy running new cards as the bring them until they find one that works. I have worked for an employer who started E-verify and had to get rid of 12 illegals. Within 2 months they were all back with new ss#. Not only were they back, but they were now in the system and set as a priority for work because the employer knew that if the were off of work too long they would need to be re-verified. In the construction trades alone millions of illegals are working while American citizens sit watching our government do nothing to help the problem.
Any suggestions? Are there are any Staffing Talk readers who have heard of using e-Verify as a cover for the deliberate hiring of illegals? Is the program a good one, or should it be dismantled and demolished? I'm looking forward to some spirited debate on this one.
"Not only does it not work, but in many cases it is actually helping the illegals keep their jobs."
As a side note, it is interesting how widely divergent are the estimates as to how many undocumented workers there really are in the U.S.