HIAS Opposes Two Immigration Acts Introduced Into the House

Posted on Fri, Mar 21, 2008 at 9:33 am

(New York, NY)– HIAS, the international immigration agency of the American Jewish community, opposes two measures recently introduced into the House of Representatives: the Save America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act, H.R. 4088) and the New Employee Verification Act (H.R. 5515). It further strongly opposes the recent strategy proposed by supporters of the SAVE Act to bypass the committee process and move the bill directly to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

According to HIAS President and CEO Gideon Aronoff, “These are flawed acts that undermine efforts to achieve practical, workable, and compassionate solutions towards a comprehensive immigration policy for this country.

“Rushing to enact legislation that has not been thoroughly vetted as part of the committee process would negatively affect millions of workers – including U.S. citizens – without opportunity for a real debate, a chance to sufficiently consider bill’s merits and drawbacks, or the option to propose needed amendments,” he stated.

The SAVE Act sets forth extensive border security and enforcement provisions, and an array of employment regulations pertaining to immigrants. It also increases the number of alien detention facilities while attempting to safeguard against commercial immigration and smuggling operations. The New Employee Verification Act would replace the current paper-based, error-prone work status verification process with a paperless Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS) to verify an employee’s identity and work eligibility, and to give the employee the ability to “lock” his/her own identity once verified. Likewise, employers that avoid and ignore the law would face much stiffer penalties.

According to Aronoff: “In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the SAVE Act heaps more dysfunction on a badly broken system by increasing spending on imperfect border security, allocating additional taxpayer dollars to the prosecution and removal of needed workers, and fortifying a system that does not effectively and realistically address a growing undocumented population.

“HIAS recognizes that our current immigration system is in need of repair, and we desperately need a national solution that is effective, fair, and maintains our American tradition as a welcoming nation. However, neither the SAVE Act nor the New Employee Verification Act would provide them. We strongly oppose these measures and call on Congress to enact legislation that will secure our borders, protect our economy and its workers, address the estimated 12 million undocumented living in this country, and reform our family-based immigration system.”