I have a piece coming tomorrow on Rep. Lamar Smith’s new mandatory E-Verify bill. In today’s hearing on the bill, the National Restaurant Association, the National Association of Home Builders, and (in a written submission) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surrendered and endorsed the bill. This naturally raises suspicions that the bill was watered down to get their support — especially in preempting state legislation — and there are some immigration hawks that may balk at the legislation. There’s a fear that this could turn out like a repeat of the 1986 enforcement promises, which looked good on paper but were abandoned later. But there are states that will never pass state E-Verify mandates, like California, New York, Illinois, and maybe even Texas, and a huge portion of the illegal population lives in those states, so it seems to me worth making modest concessions to get a national bill. And unlike the 1986 bill, E-Verify isn’t a promise or a hope, it’s a functioning program that all legitimate businesses will enroll in once it becomes a mandate.
The point is that some of the wrangling over the bill will be among immigration hawks, with some claiming that Lamar Smith, of all people, isn’t tough enough on immigration. We’ll see the degree of political maturity among restrictionists in the coming debate and whether they can take yes for an answer.