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Smith: E-Verify Program Is Not Discriminatory

A recent Roll Call article, “Tequila Party Rallies Hispanics,” told only one side of the story.

Pro-enforcement views on immigration do not alienate Hispanic voters nor target ethnic minorities. Such claims are offensive and incorrect.

Unfortunately, pro-amnesty supporters continue to repeat the same fictitious statements when they don’t have the facts.  

The article insinuates that improving the federal E-Verify program and making it mandatory unfairly targets minorities. This is false.

E-Verify, a Web-based program that helps ensure jobs are reserved for citizens and legal workers, is not discriminatory. It doesn’t ask race, creed or ethnicity. E-Verify merely checks workers’ names and Social Security numbers to verify that they are eligible to work in the United States.

You have to show your Social Security number to visit the doctor, go to the bank or buy a home.

It makes sense that businesses would use the same identification to ensure they have a legal workforce by checking the legal status of their employees.

E-Verify does not discriminate based on race, but it does distinguish between legal and illegal. And there’s nothing improper or unfair about that.

A majority of Hispanic voters agree. A November 2009 Zogby poll found 82 percent of likely Hispanic voters supported reducing the illegal immigrant population over time by enforcing existing laws, such as requiring employers to verify the legal status of workers and increasing border enforcement.

More importantly, the 2010 election results prove that many Hispanic voters support efforts to enforce immigration laws.  

Exit polls showed that 38 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for House Republican candidates in 2010. This is more than in 2006 and 2008.

Republican Latino candidates in Florida, New Mexico and Nevada — all with substantial Hispanic populations — won statewide races while calling for enhanced border security and enforcement of immigration laws.

Voters also elected five Hispanics to the House of Representatives, all pro-enforcement Republicans.

The pro-enforcement movement is not only Republican, it is American. We have the most generous legal immigration system in the world, admitting 1 million immigrants each year.

But illegal immigration puts a strain on our economy, schools and hospitals as well as poses serious national security threats.

Enforcing all of our laws — including immigration laws — is critical to our success as a nation.

Contrary to the claims made by some, the record shows that Republicans will continue to attract Hispanic voters and that more Republican Hispanic candidates will be elected to public office. Perhaps that is what really worries some of the critics. 

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is chairman of the Judiciary Committee.