Wednesday, July 6, 2011

California Legislative Visit Senator Ron Calderon

Ten of us in California Senate District 30 visited California Senator Ron S. Calderon's office in Montebello, CA this afternoon to talk about AB 1236 and learn more about the legislative process in California. Our group of ten people included Jonathan and Martha from the San Gabriel Valley DREAM Team;  retired United Methodist Pastor from Whittier, Bill Miller; Maria, Fernando (going into the eighth grade) and Marta from Bell and Adriana Diaz Ordaz from COFEM; and Carl from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Our concern is that any increase in enforcement such as E-verify program that is full of errors, without any change in the law to allow hard working people a path to get resident and/or citizen status will have a negative effect on business, on people seeking jobs, and the community as a whole. We asked the Senator's staff to ask Senator Calderon to support AB 1236 which will limit the use of the flawed system in California. In the past, Senator Calderon voted in favor of similar legislation. My sources told me before the meeting that the Senator's legislative director is recommending he vote in favor of this bill. The staffer in the office today was unable to say with certainty that the Senator would in fact vote for it.

Kristine from the California Immigration Policy Center helped with the technical details and briefed us on the negative impact of e-verify program and why AB 1236 is a positive thing for California, for business and our communities.  Follow the links here to learn more about this issue.

A letter to my senator, Ron S. Calderon after the break. Adapt the information in this letter for your own California Senator and Assemblymember. 
July 6, 2011

State Senator Ron S. Calderon
State Senate District 30, District Office
400 N. Montebello Blvd. Suite 100
Montebello, CA 90640

Fax:  (323) 890-2795

RE: AB 1236 (Fong) - Support

Dear Senator Calderon:

Capacity Partnership Group (a business consultancy practice) and Loving the Stranger Network (a network of faith-based organizations) strongly supports Assembly Bill 1236 by Assemblymember Fong. This bill would prohibit state and local governments, unless mandated by federal law, from requiring private employers to use the E-Verify system.  This bill provides employers the flexibility they need in today’s economic crisis to accelerate employment when many people are looking for jobs. 

The United States immigration system has long been broken, but unfortunately federal legislators continue to fail to comprehensively reform the system. Their failings have forced some local legislators to misguidedly take matters into their own hands.

E-Verify is Expensive for Everyone

E-verify places unnecessary burdens and costs on California businesses. The system requires employers’ compliance with the system and holds employers responsible for verifying employee’s work authorization. Doing so requires extensive training and changes in human resource policies and practices, going beyond what is currently required under Federal Law. According to Bloomberg News Service, the cost to small businesses if E-verify were mandated nationwide would be $2.6 billion.[1]

E-Verify is a Terribly Flawed System

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases, which E-Verify are checked against, remain deeply flawed.  Each year thousands of workers wrongfully receive “tentative non-confirmations” (TNC’s) based on discrepancies in the E-Verify databases and employer misuse. According to the report, of the nearly 25,000 (TNC’s) issued in fiscal year 2009 based on name mismatches alone, more than 75% were issued to US Citizens. As a result, US citizens are wrongfully kept from work or wrongfully fired, decreasing both worker and business productivity.

Local governments shouldn’t mandate E-Verify

By mandating E-Verify, local governments are committing themselves to costly implementation and enforcement – which most local governments don’t have the funds to do. E-Verify will not guarantee that unscrupulous employers will not hire unauthorized workers. In Arizona, a state that has mandated E-Verify for all businesses, numerous reports from the Arizona Republic newspaper have pointed to the number of taxpaying workers who have continued to work, but simply been shifted off the tax rolls. [2]

AB 1236 protects prosperity and promotes economic recovery efforts

Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) recognizes that increasing costs during a time of economic hardship would be detrimental to recovery efforts. His bill, AB 1236, would insure that city, county and state government cannot mandate the use of E-Verify for private business owners and would reaffirm that E-Verify is an optional program of the Federal Government. The bill has broad support from civil rights and immigrant rights organizations, labor and chambers of commerce. For these reasons, [your organization] urges your support for AB 1236.  

This bill would impact many businesses and individuals in California Senate Distric 30. We urge the Senator to vote in favor of this bill and to support other bills that will increase the ability of immigrant families to improve their lives through work and business in California and the United States. Please feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions or be of help in any way.  


Glen Peterson

[1] Jason Arvelo, “Bloomberg Brief: Assessing E-Verify Costs for Employers, Tax Payers,” Bloomberg Government, January 2011.
[2] Jahanna Berry, “Arizona’s Illegal Immigrants can Easily Avoid E-Verify systemThe Arizona Republic, August 17, 2010.