By Kris Kobach
History is threatening to re peat itself. Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act (better known among conservatives as the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty), which gave a path to citizenship to illegal aliens already here in exchange for prohibiting the hiring of illegal workers — a provision that has been enforced only sporadically. It was a raw deal for conservatives.
On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced a bill (HR 2164) to require nationwide use of the E-Verify system, which checks a job applicant’s citizenship and immigration status, via the Internet, to see if he or she is eligible to work.
While the Smith bill sounds good, in fact, it hobbles immigration enforcement. Negotiated with the pro-amnesty US Chamber of Commerce, the bill would establish a fairly toothless E-Verify requirement while defanging the only government bodies that are serious about enforcing immigration law — the states.
The timing couldn’t be worse. The bill stabs Arizona in the back, just after it won a victory in the US Supreme Court in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting on May 26. The court upheld the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act, which lets the state suspend the business licenses of employers who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens and requires employers to use E-Verify.
The decision was a significant defeat for the Obama administration, which argued against the Arizona law in the high court, and for the Chamber of Commerce, which also opposed Arizona and has resisted immigration enforcement in the workplace.
It gives a green light to the rest of the states, allowing them, too, to revoke the business licenses of employers who hire unauthorized aliens. Alabama enacted a law taking Arizona’s approach on June 9, just two weeks after the Supreme Court decision. Other states, like Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma, had already done so. More would have followed in 2012.