The Corner

Lefties Outflank Deal on Immigration?

It seems that even lefty amnesty advocate Cynthia Tucker, a columnist at Atlanta’s remaining newspaper, understands E-Verify better than the state’s Republican governor:

If employers were to risk heavy penalties for hiring illegally — penalties that include prison stints — they would stop using illegal labor. And if undocumented workers could not get jobs, most would stop crossing the border. Really. This problem has a reasonably simple solution.

But it’s not going to get fixed because it would require politicians of all stripes — but especially Republicans — to tell Americans, long accustomed to scapegoating illegal immigrants for all manner of things, some hard truths. Few politicians seem willing to do that.

Take Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who is now backpedaling furiously from state legislation that would require most Georgia employers to use e-Verify. The governor, who was an ardent supporter of the mandatory use of e-Verify when he was in Congress, has recently expressed concerns about the accuracy of the system.

Actually, e-Verify is vastly improved over the last year or two, with fewer errors that disqualify legal workers. The Department of Homeland Security has pledged more improvements.

But Deal has been confronted by executives who worry that laws requiring only legal workers will hurt their businesses and damage Georgia’s economy — especially the $68.8 billion agricultural sector. The Georgia Farm Bureau has been among the lobbying groups showing little to no enthusiasm for laws that would crack down on illegal hiring.

Tucker is clear that she wants “comprehensive immigration reform” first, meaning amnesty and huge increases in future legal immigration, so it’s not like she’s an immigration hawk. But at least she’s honest enough to admit that E-Verify for all employers would actually work.

And to get a sense of the magnitude of Deal’s waffling, here’s what he said during the campaign, when asked the following question: “Will you commit to using the power of the Governor’s office to put in place legislation that requires use of the no-cost federal E-Verify employment verification system to obtain or renew a business license/‘occupational tax certificate’ in Georgia?”:

Yes.

Some issues require nuance and context and all the rest. This doesn’t.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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