Implementation of a national mandate for E-Verify use by employers “should be a part of any immigration reform package” because it “would stop the jobs magnet that attracts so many illegal immigrants to come into this country,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) in a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Smith described such an E-Verify mandate as a crucial component of any final legislative deal pertaining to the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, broader immigration reform, and border security. “E-Verify should be a part of any immigration reform package,” said Smith.
Smith’s comments about the importance of E-Verify in combating illegal immigration prompted Mansour to inquire about what she described as a lack of insistence on the issue from Republicans and the White House in the DACA amnesty negotiations. She pointed to NumbersUSA’s Rosemary Jenks’s recent description of Congress as being beholden to “big business donors, organized religion, [and] the ethnic advocacy” who support “mass migration” and oppose an E-Verify mandate because they “know it will work.”
“Can I ask you also about E-Verify?” asked Mansour. “It seems like that’s not being mentioned a lot by the White House and Congress as a must-have, and I’m concerned about that because it seems like an obvious and immediate thing that would curb illegal immigration.”
“E-Verify would stop the jobs magnet that attracts so many illegal immigrants to come into this country,” replied Smith. “It will be able to put American workers first. I mean, that’s what we promised to do. We need to save these jobs for American workers who are unemployed or underemployed. All we’re doing to employers is saying that for future hires – not current employees – they must double-check to make sure that they’re eligible to work in America.”
Growing popularity of E-Verify is changing the position of certain groups formerly opposed to it, said Smith: “If something is that popular with the American people, the most popular of any of the immigration reforms, it sounds to me like the big corporations and the big businesses ought to listen. In point of fact, I think some of the headwinds are turning into tailwinds because, for example, the Chamber of Commerce opposed E-Verify several years ago, they’ve now come around in favor of it. The National Restaurant Association has now changed and it coming out in favor of it. To the extent that we’re getting additional support, it’s all coming from individuals who now recognize it would be good for the country and good for American workers.”
E-Verify enjoys “up to 82 percent approval by the American people,” said Smith, describing it as “the most popular immigration reform.”
Approximately one-third of America’s workforce is already covered by E-Verify, said Smith: “Employers are voluntarily singing up for [E-Verify], with 1,500 employers signing up for it every single week. They like it. they want it. They want to do what’s right, and they want to hire American workers and legal immigrants who are eligible to hire. They don’t want to hire illegal immigrants who are going to take jobs away from American workers.”
“I would have everyone call their senators and their representatives in the House and say, ‘We want E-Verify in any immigration package,’” added Smith, urging Americans to express support for a national mandate for E-Verify use by employers. “That would be the most helpful.”
Temporary work visas issued to illegal aliens via DACA amounted to a rubber stamp, said Smith: “90 percent plus were approved by the Obama administration with very little checking for fraud, so you could have somebody who is 30 years old saying. ‘Yes, I came to the country when I was a teenager.’ He came to the country as a teenager but they never had to show any documents, and the documents were never checked by the Obama administration. … I actually think the approval rate was something like 92 or 97 percent. Everybody who could apply was rubber-stamped.”
Eligibility for DACA included the following generally unverifiable requirements: Applicants must have have been under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012 and must have come to the U.S. while under the age of 16.
Any acceptable DACA-style amnesty legislation must include the following elements, said Smith: 1. Border security in the form of walls and fences; 2. A national mandate for E-Verify use by employers; 3 Ending chain migration; 4. Ending the “Diversity Immigrant Visa”; 5. Guarantees that amnesty will not extend beyond the approximately 700,000 DACA recipients; and 6. Greater emphasis on merit-based immigration.
Democrats a pursuing a much broader agenda of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, said Smith. “They’re not going to stop with DACA. They’re going to try to get DACA, and the next thing they’re going to try to get is say, ‘Okay, now we need to legitimize the 11 million people in the country illegally.’ So this is just the beginning, and if we’re not firm now we’re going to end up making concessions that we shouldn’t make that are not good to the American people.”
Asked by Mansour about the “Graham-Flake-Durbin amnesty bill” backed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Smith dismissed the proposal as unwise and unpalatable to the public: “It’s a massive amnesty. You know, these are all individuals who have been for amnesty for a long time, a couple of Republicans and almost all Democrats. I don’t see it as acceptable to the people in the House. I don’t see it as necessarily acceptable to a majority of Republicans in the Senate, in fact, I’m sure it won’t be. So, I think it’s a little bit of an outlier group of senators who probably mean well, but I don’t think they represent either the Senate or the House of the American people.”
The status quo of illegal immigration erodes American sovereignty, said Smith: “There is just no reason whatsoever we should be having a situation like we do today where we have almost half a million people coming into this country illegally every year. We don’t know who they are. We don’t know where they’re going to go. We don’t know what they might do when they come in. That is just not the nature of a sovereign nation to allow that to occur, so the sooner we get some structure on the border built; the sooner we have some of these immigration reforms, the sooner we’ll be able to reduce illegal immigration, and then we can look at the larger package and perhaps do something for a limited number of the DACA folks.”
The recent “government shutdown” diminished Democrats’ political capital, added Smith, pointing to Republican framing of the event as key to its outcome: “I think the shutdown, although it was not intended to help Republicans with immigration, I think it did help. We were able to frame this issue as, frankly, illegal immigrants versus the military, healthcare for children, and honest, legitimate citizens. And we won that debate. I think now the American people are watching a little bit more closely, paying a little more attention to the immigration debate.”
“I think the tide is changing in favor of those of us who feel like we need to be a nation of laws, we need to enforce our immigration laws, and we need to have immigration policy that’s in the best interests of Americans,” said Smith. “It might not necessarily be in the best interests of foreign individuals who want to come to America, but clearly we need an immigration policy that benefits America and it’s not surprise that Americans want that, too, and I think that’s aligns them with Republicans.”
Democrats are misrepresenting promises they claim to have secured from Republicans and the White House in ongoing DACA-related negotiations, said Smith: “When it comes to what the Democrats say they got in return for opening up the government. Just remember, the most important thing is what Senator McConnell says, not what Senator Schumer wants it to be.”
“The president is going to get a lot more than a one-year so-called down payment on a wall,” said Smith, dismissing Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) “meaningless” tentative offer for one year of funding for a border wall.
“Chuck Schumer’s offer was not anything significant. He was talking about maybe authorizing the funds for construction of a structure [along the southern border] for just one year. It was nothing. It was meaningless, as far as I’m concerned,” said Smith.
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.