The Economic Stimulus: Boosting Our Economy or Hurting Workers?

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 at 2:52 pm

As I write, advocates across DC are glued to CSPAN-2 watching the Senate debate over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Because we’re waiting to see if an amendment offered by Senator Sessions that requires all recipients of stimulus funds to use the E-Verify/Basic Pilot Program will be voted upon today.

You may wonder why we’re so concerned. Worker authorization and oversight makes sense when we’re talking about a package that will pump over $800 billion into our economy, right?

Unfortunately, in this case, it’s wrong. The E-Verify/Basic Pilot Program is known for being extremely flawed, as has been documented by three different House committees in five separate hearings.

The E-Verify program works by having employers enter the information of a recent hire into a an automated system where the social security number of the new employee is checked against the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) database. The SSA then confirms whether the social security number matches or not.

However, the Social Security Administration has admitted that 17.8 million of its records contain errors or discrepancies related to name, date of birth, and citizenship status, with 12. 7 million of those errors pertaining to US citizens. That means that a HUGE number of workers will be wrongfully non-confirmed as having authorized work status.

And the amendment offered by Senator Sessions represents a MASSIVE expansion of the program, expansion by over 75%. It would require any entity–public or private–that receives stimulus funds to use the program. That means schools, hospitals, churches, social service organizations, transportation agencies, farms, and small businesses, many of which do not currently have the E-Verify/Basic Pilot Program.

So not only would it make more difficult for workers to get jobs, it would also delay the implementation of the stimulus as we waited for all of the entities receiving stimulus funds to both get and undergo training for the E-Verify program. It would also cost an additional $10 billion to implement it nation wide and in general increase the cost of doing business. And those negative effects don’t even include the increased potential of employer abuse created by the program.

Overall, at a time when our economy needs a boost, we should not be trying to make flawed programs that hurt workers and business a mandatory part of our recovery package.

Want to learn more about FCNL’s analysis of the recovery package? Click here.


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