Warning: SAVE Act goes wrong way on immigration

WASHINGTON — The Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE) is an enforcement only, anti-immigrant bill that will make life worse for immigrants and their families while doing nothing to solve our country’s undocumented immigration problem.

It was introduced in the House by North Carolina Democrat Heath Schuler and currently has 136 co-sponsors, 46 Democrats and 90 Republicans.

The SAVE Act would do as follows.

• Compel all employers to fire all workers for whom they receive a Social Security “No-Match” letter if the employee cannot clear up the problem within 10 days. “No Match” letters are sent to employers by the Social Security Administration when the information submitted on the W-2 form for an employee does not match the government’s records. The Social Security Administration’s data base is estimated to have as many as 17 million files with errors, so this would also lead to massive firings not only of undocumented immigrants, but of legal residents and citizens also.

• Compel all employers to use the Basic Pilot Verification System to check on their employees’ immigration status. This is a deeply flawed system and its obligatory use is likely to cost the jobs not only of undocumented immigrants, but also of legal residents and U.S. citizens for whom the government has erroneous information.

• Require all workers, immigrant or citizen, who are working at two or more jobs to provide documentation to the government that they have valid Social Security Numbers and are working at multiple jobs. This will put a huge burden on millions of workers and swamp the Social Security Administration with extra work.

• Provide all information on unresolved Social Security No-Match letters and cases of workers having one or more jobs to the Department of Homeland Security, swamping Homeland Security and threatening civil liberties.

• Greatly increase pressure on local police departments to undertake immigration enforcement work, thereby endangering civil liberties, increasing racial profiling and harming police-community relations.

• Crack down on religious workers who are helping immigrant communities, putting clergy and laity in danger of being prosecuted for “immigrant smuggling” while doing their pastoral duty.

• Vastly increase the cost to the taxpayers of border and internal immigration “enforcement” measures that will not solve the problem.

• Seriously damage the economy and the interests of US workers by its massively disruptive effects.

Bill sponsors are trying to get enough co-sponsors to force a vote directly on the House floor very soon, avoiding committees. Immigrant and labor rights activists urge quick action to defeat HR 4088. Please contact your congressperson and Senators right away to ask them to withdraw their names as co-sponsors of the bill, and to vote against it. The only solution to the current problem of undocumented immigration is a comprehensive immigration reform that:

• legalizes the 12 million undocumented immigrants and protects them from exploitation in the workplace and community;

• changes U.S. immigration policies so that people can come in legally with full rights on the job and in the community;

• changes U.S. trade policies so that people in poorer countries can advance economically and are not forced to uproot themselves to find work.