The time is now for E-Verify across Florida
When Governor Ron DeSantis was on the campaign trail, he promised bold reform.
He’s delivered — and the people of the Sunshine State love him for it.
With one of the country’s highest gubernatorial approval ratings, and a broad swath of accomplishments during his first year in office, the sky’s the limit for Governor DeSantis.
The Governor will keep his momentum going strong during his second year in office, with legislative priorities geared at making our state stronger, cleaner, and more prosperous.
On one vital issue, however, he’s facing opposition from an unexpected source: weak-kneed Republicans more focused on special interests than Florida workers.
In November 2019, Gov. DeSantis announced that he would be pursuing mandatory statewide E-Verify. This widely-used program has a simple premise: employers can check whether a person they’re about to hire is in the country legally.
E-Verify is used in all 50 states, and it is mandatory (for at least some employers) in 20 states. In Florida, it has been required for all new agency employees since 2011, following an Executive Order by then-Governor Rick Scott. Everywhere it has been used, it has been a success for workers and employers alike. Even the left-leaning Washington Post admitted that “in Arizona, which pioneered the mandatory checks in 2008, the number of unauthorized workers dropped 33 percent below what was projected without the requirement.” The same article also pointed to another happy benefit from instituting E-Verify: “increased wages for low-skilled workers born in the United States.”
The 2016 Presidential election was largely a referendum on America’s immigration policies. Even conservatives who wanted nothing to do with then-candidate Donald Trump were begrudgingly forced to admit that he was largely right about immigration: our border WAS porous, our immigration policies WERE lax, and our laws encouraged, rather than discouraged, widespread illegal immigration.
During the 2018 Gubernatorial Primary, Florida Republicans could have chosen anti-E-Verify candidate Adam Putnam. We resoundingly and correctly chose DeSantis instead.
The Trump/DeSantis message resonated with voters, who agreed that something had to change.
It’s time for Florida to make a change, too. Requiring the statewide use of E-Verify will curb illegal immigration, while creating jobs and raising wages for Floridians. Most importantly, it will make the agriculture sector of Florida’s economy less of a magnet for those who have entered the country illegally.
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, sniffing with derision at Gov. DeSantis’s E-Verify proposal, said “It is something that the Florida Senate — or at least this administration — does not endorse.” His successor, Senator and agribusinessman Wilton Simpson, has been similarly opposed.
Galvano has argued that E-Verify will be costly and time-consuming for businesses. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is E-Verify free to use, it processes applications quickly and efficiently. It is a simple, common-sense step that employers can (and should) take to ensure they are hiring legal employees. In the first three quarters of 2019, nearly 900,000 businesses nationwide processed over 40 million cases through the program. It takes less than a minute to complete, and ensures a legal workforce.
Furthermore, it’s supported by a huge majority of the American population. Another article from the Post stated that “79 percent [of the American public] supports requiring employers to verify that all new hires are living in the United States legally.”
In these days of inflamed — and inflammatory — political debate, any issue with 79% public support is worth serious consideration.
Republicans like Galvano and Simpson should not carry water for Florida agribusiness at the expense of the rule of law. They should not thumb their noses at Florida voters, choosing instead to pander to big business — and big donors.
Florida’s citizens deserve the benefits of E-Verify: higher wages, increased job security, and a safe, legal workforce. Governor DeSantis is working hard to enhance the well-being and prosperity of our state and its citizens. Why aren’t Galvano and Simpson?