Recently, Representatives Heath Shuler (NC) and Brian Bilbray (CA) introduced H.R. 4088, the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. NFIB strongly supports this legislation. Senators Mark Pryor (AR) and Mary Landrieu (LA) have introduced the Senate-companion bill, S. 2368.
Rep. Shuler issued the following statement upon NFIB’s endorsement of H.R. 4088: “The SAVE Act is commonsense legislation that is bringing people together to address this difficult issue,” said Rep. Shuler. “I was proud to work with NFIB while drafting this legislation because of their strong representation of American businesses. I deeply appreciate their continued support for this bill as we work to pass the SAVE Act into law.”
The NFIB Research Foundation conducted two polls in 2006 that confirm that NFIB members place a high priority on immigration reform, including a mandatory e-verify system, strengthening current border security and enforcement of current immigration law.
NFIB Poll Results
In March and December of 2006, the NFIB Research Foundation conducted two in-depth member polls regarding federal immigration policy. Included in the results were the following:
- More than 90 percent of NFIB members believe that illegal immigration is a serious problem.
- Eighty-six percent say that finding a solution should be a “very high” or “high” priority for Congress and the administration.
- Eighty-three percent of our members agree that employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers should be subject to fines or other penalties.
- Seventy-four percent of NFIB members agreed that comprehensive immigration reform should increase border patrol and improve technology used on the border (e.g. air-borne surveillance).
- Seventy-three percent of our members agreed that employers should be required to use a government-run (not employer-run) verification system.
How does the SAVE Act affect NFIB members?
Eighty-three percent of NFIB members agreed that employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers should be subject to fines or other penalties:
- The bill includes a reasonable limit on penalties: First offense penalties are capped at $5,000 per offense and the second offense at $10,000.
- It retains current internal revenue code that takes into account the size of an employer in its fee structure–fees are capped on small businesses with earnings up to $5 million per year.
- It limits the regulatory burdens placed on business and the electronic verification system is free for all employers.
- It prohibits penalties for good-faith violations and retains the safe haven provision for voluntary and early compliance.
- It protects employers if incorrect information on a worker is given by the verification system.
- It contains appropriate phase-in times of the new verification system: Employers with more than 30 employees must verify the eligibility of new employees within three years of enactment, and employers with fewer than 30 employees must verify new hires and current employees within four years of enactment.
How will the SAVE Act curb illegal immigration?
Seventy-four percent of NFIB members believe there is a need for the federal government to increase border patrol and use enhanced surveillance technology:
- The SAVE Act increases Border Patrol agents by 8,000, as well as utilizes new technology and infrastructure.
- It increases aerial surveillance and satellite and equipment sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to save taxpayer dollars.
- It also increases the number of ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) agents and provides for additional training for state and local law enforcement personnel.
Seventy-three percent of NFIB members believe employers should be required to use an e-verify system:
- The SAVE Act mandates the E-Verify program for all employees in four years.
- E-Verify is currently voluntary, putting users at a disadvantage should their competitors hire undocumented workers.
- Employees must provide an acceptable form of ID from a limited list, and employers receive verification in seconds.
- Closes the existing loopholes in E-Verify to detect multiple people using the same social security number.
- Implements a targeted media campaign to inform undocumented workers of new laws and penalties, while also informing employers of penalties for hiring undocumented workers.
- The E-Verify program is free for all employers.
While NFIB supports H.R. 4088, we will continue to monitor the legislation as it moves through the committee process and during action on the House and Senate floors. NFIB urges that the following improvements be made to the bill:
- Providing safe harbor for contractors who unknowingly hire undocumented workers as subcontractors or utilize subcontractors who hire undocumented workers.
- Expanding the current number of H-2B visas made available.
- Any temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers must have an H-2B visa to be considered an authorized worker.
- Extending the window of time the employer and employee are given to respond to a “no-match” letter from the Social Security Administration.
- The current bill mandates a period of 10 days, and NFIB supports a 90 day notification time period.
The NFIB Legal Foundation has meanwhile urged the Department of Homeland Security to consider the small-business impact that a rule issued by DHS will have on small business. The rule would require employers that receive a “no-match” letter from the Social Security Administration to fire the employee, or risk civil or criminal penalties, unless the discrepancy can be resolved. Despite the unmistakable administrative costs imposed by the new rule, DHS certified, in violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, that these regulations would not significantly impact a substantial number of small firms.
For additional information on or further explanation of H.R. 4088, please contact Gary Palmquist at 202-314-2082, Kevin Frank at 202-314-2002 or Kate Bonner at 202-314-2046. Please contact Beth Milito at 202-314-4443 with any questions regarding the NFIB Legal Foundation.