Immigration Reform: Will Congress Agree on Border Security, E-Verify?

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) quickly issued a statement over the weekend regarding the Gang of Eight's immigration reform plan after his colleague, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), said all members have agreed on a proposal.

On NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Chuck Todd asked Schumer "is a deal done?"

Schumer told Todd that the gang of eight will have a proposal ready next week that will go to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for markup and debate in the committee, and then it will move to the Senate floor in May for debate among all members.

"With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved by the Gang of Eight," Schumer said.

According to a statement released by Rubio, although the Chamber of Commerce and labor unions have come to an agreement on the "issue of guest workers," members of the Gang of Eight haven't reached a final agreement.

One major issue of concern for conservatives is border security, which Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) noted in his speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on March 19.

"It's absolutely vital for both the success of our immigration policy and for the purposes of national security that we do secure our border," said Paul, who believes the plan for border security must be certified by the border patrol and an investigator general, and that a report must also be sent to Congress to be voted on every year for several years. He calls his plan "trust but verify."

Paul added that the solution doesn't have to be as drastic as deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants or amnesty, but rather a "probationary period" for immigrants that doesn't put the onus of regulation on small business owners via E-Verify.

According to Paul, unlike some of his colleagues, he doesn't believe in instituting a national identification card, nor does he believe in a mandatory E-Verify program. "I don't like the idea of making every business owner a policeman," he said. "…making them do the job the federal government has failed to do. Nor should we force business owners to become immigration inspectors."

Members of the Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO and farm workers' unions have been collaborating for some time now on a plan of their own that benefits workers and the businesses that need to have access to a legal workforce, according to a House Democratic aide.

Jeff Hauser, who works on immigration reform for the AFL-CIO, told the CP in a statement that, in its current form, "E-Verify contains insufficient safeguards and is thus, vulnerable to misuse by employers who use the program in a discriminatory manner, or fail to provide adequate due process protections for workers to contest a tentative non-confirmation [response from E-Verify]."

Likewise, the AFL-CIO wants Congress' immigration reform plan to create a "streamlined process for workers to claim credit for past social security contributions," in order "to access their contributions in the event of disability or retirement." As well as make changes to existing Visa programs to increase transparency. And to "ensure that federal contractors abide by laws intended to protect the rights of workers in the immigration process," such as "anti-discrimination and due process requirements," among other federal requirements to meet "labor and worker standards."   

During a March 12 conference call hosted by the Rights Working Group that was titled, "E-Verify, Privacy Rights and Racial Profiling," Emily Tulli, the workers' rights policy attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, said NILC has critiqued E-Verify since its inception in 1997 and continues to oppose its use.

"If a U.S. citizen receives a tentative non-confirmation (TNC) from E-Verify, they have eight federal working days to contact either the Social Security Administration or Homeland Security to correct their error," Tulli said. "If the TNC turns into a final non-confirmation, the worker's going to get fired. If E-Verify becomes a mandate for all workers [under the new immigration reform legislation] we estimate that 1.2 million workers will have to go to a government agency [to resolve the error] or risk losing their jobs."

Members of the House group of eight who are working on an immigration proposal include: Democrats John Yarmuth (Ky.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Xavier Bacerra and Zoe Lofgren, both of California, and Republicans John Carter and Sam Johnson, both from Texas, Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) and Raul Labrador (Idaho).

The Senate Gang of Eight who are working on a Senate immigration reform plan, include: Republicans Marco Rubio (Fla.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Democrats Dick Durbin (Ill.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).

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