California AB 1236 Protects Businesses from Mandatory E-Verify Program

On Sunday, October 9th, 2011 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1236, the Employment Acceleration Act authored by Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Cupertino). The bill ensures that it prohibits the state, cities or counties from requiring employers to use E-Verify, an electronic employment verification system that uses employees’ social security numbers to determine work eligibility. Exceptions are made, however, for city or county workers, or if E-verify is a requirement for particular employers under federal or as a condition for employers receiving federal funds.

While supporters of mandatory E-Verify claim the system will magically open up millions of jobs to American workers, reports find that the program would actually cost California’s small businesses (which make up 99% of employers in the state) more than $312 million per year and potentially put 90,000 U.S. citizen and legal state workers out of a job. Nationally, mandatory E-Verify would cost small businesses $2.6 billion a year, according to Bloomberg News Service, and cost federal contractors $10 billion to implement. According to Assemblyman Paul Fong, AB 1236’s sponsor:
“This bill protects our California workers and businesses. The mandated use of E-Verify would impose a major financial burden on businesses, especially small businesses. In addition, businesses will suffer from delayed hiring and the cost of mistaken identities. In this tough economy, we need to help businesses and grow and provide jobs, not set up barriers that cost jobs.”
Those pushing E-Verify say it identifies workers who do not have authorization to work in the US. But because the social security files are error-ridden, E-verify instead kills jobs, slaps burdens on small businesses, and hurts taxpayers.

According to government data, E-Verify correctly detects unauthorized workers only about half the time. Meanwhile, false positives abound. Consider the testimony of a U.S. citizen and former U.S. Navy captain (with 34 years of service) at a town hall meeting in Ashtabula, OH, a few years back. E-Verify flagged him as not eligible for employment — and even though his wife is an attorney, it took them two months to clear things up.

Indeed, final error rates in a report commissioned by the US Government suggest that up to 90,000 US citizens and authorized immigrants in California could eventually lose their jobs — more than the entire population of Santa Barbara, California. Nationally, the figures add up to 770,000 US workers out of work, hardly the right recipe for our economic problems.

AB 1236 ensures that for at least the State of California, our small businesses and agricultural industry do not carry the burden of the expenses that come with the E-Verify program.