Chamber Letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary on the Border and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2005
December 7, 2005
The Honorable Jim Sensenbrenner
House Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Sensenbrenner:
As the Judiciary Committee prepares to consider the Border and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2005, I would like to express the disappointment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the legislation is limited to enforcement mechanisms and does not also address the important issues of temporary worker programs and the legal status of the undocumented. As the President recently affirmed, enforcement alone will not create a rational immigration policy for this country.
Beyond these broader policy issues, we also have concerns with the legislation itself. Title VII of the bill mandates that all employers, of all sizes and across the economic spectrum, must comply with a government-run electronic/telephonic verification system to ensure that all employees are authorized to work. While the concept is based on past pilot projects and may be theoretically sound, it is questionable whether a new mandate of this breadth, applicable to over seven million employers and over 140 million employees, can be realistically implemented, particularly under the proposal's deadlines. The Basic Pilot Program was limited to approximately 3,600 employers and only their new hires, while the proposed bill will also apply to existing employees. Further, there have been many practical compliance problems under the program. While improvements have been made, the extension of this program to a much broader universe creates serious questions as to its practicality in the real world. Unfortunately the brief time we have had to review the bill makes it impossible to evaluate its potential impact on our membership. We also question whether the massive increase in penalties against employers, including for paperwork violations, is justified.
Thank you for your consideration of these matters. We look forward to working with Congress as this debate continues.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
cc: Members of the House Committee on the Judiciary