All Oregon government agencies should use E-Verify

Letter date: 
Friday, February 3, 2012
Letter publisher: 
Mail Tribune - Southern Oregon's News Source
Letter author: 
David Olen Cross
Letter body: 

Oregon's state senators and representatives during the 2012 legislative session have an opportunity help unemployed Oregonians by supporting and passing House Bill 4052, which would require that all state agencies use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizen and Immigration Services E-Verify system.

Sponsored by Reps. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer; Jeff Barker, D-Aloha; Vicki Berger, R-Salem; Katie Eyre Brewer, R-Hillsboro; Sal Esquivel, R-Medford; Tim Freeman, R-Roseburg; Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio; Jim Thompson, R-Dallas; Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver; and Matt Wingard,R-Wilsonville; HB 4052 would put the state of Oregon more in line with the federal government, which requires all federal agencies use the E-Verify system.

Requiring all state agencies use the E-Verify system would not be a matter of starting from scratch for the state of Oregon because all or portions of six state agencies already use the system (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Military Department, Oregon Parks and Recreation, Oregon Corrections Enterprises, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Oregon Health Science University and Portland State University).

The importance the Legislature passing E-Verify legislation really becomes apparent when looking at Oregon's unemployment rate for December 2011 being at 8.9 percent, the state ranking in the top 14 of 50 states for percentage of unemployed residents and 175,830 Oregonians being unemployed. Legislators should also be aware that Oregon's unemployed are in competition for scarce jobs with an estimated 97,000 foreign national workers illegally in the state, 4.9 percent of the state's domestic workforce.

If Oregon legislators need some convincing examples of E-Verify system success, they won't have to look to far because at least 17 states — 34 percent — have laws requiring that their state governments use the E-Verify system; nine of those states had December 2011 seasonally adjusted unemployment rates lower than Oregon: Alabama (8.1 percent), Arizona (8.7 percent), Idaho (8.4 percent), Missouri (8.0 percent), Nebraska (4.1 percent), Oklahoma (6.1 percent), Tennessee (8.7 percent), Utah (6.0 percent) and Virginia (6.2 percent).

State legislators need not look beyond Oregon for success stories because 15 of Oregon's 36 county governments — 42 percent — use the E-Verify system: Clatsop, Coos, Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill.

Statewide, 2,787 Oregon public- and private-sector employers are successfully using the system, which is 98.6 percent accurate, features a fast response time and is free to the user.

The Legislature's passage of HB 4052 requiring the state of Oregon — the largest public employer — to use the E-Verify system would be far more than a symbolic gesture, considering that over the past four years Oregonians have suffered and continue to suffer unemployment numbers not seen since the Great Depression.

Oregonians should call or e-mail their state senator and representative and ask them to support and pass HB 4052, requiring all state of Oregon government agencies use the E-Verify system, so if a job opening becomes available to work for the state, a qualified person with authorization to work in the country will be first in line for that job.

David Olen Cross of Salem ( lobbies the Oregon Legislature on issues related to immigration and foreign national crime.