Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's really important

I read this column by John Kass this morning and had a laugh about it. I don't like Kass's columns very much. They are so full of puffery at times, it's difficult to continue reading. But now I see this topic is front and center on the Chicago Tribune's Web site, so I thought I'd write about it.

Why is this important? If E-Verify was such a spectacular program, why was it just put into play now? If the Republicans wanted to make using E-Verify mandatory for all employers, they could have done it anytime since 1997, when the program was first introduced (under a different name). But now the House Democrats put it in a stimulus bill, the Senate takes it out, and it must be all the Democrats' fault. The headline to Kass's column is even "Democrats undercut aid for U.S. workers." Seriously? Again, if this program was so important, why didn't Republicans make it law when they had a majority in Congress? I guess "Republicans undercut aid to U.S. workers" too. And really does Kass even know why the E-Verify provision was taken out? No, he doesn't say. He talked to one Republican senator (Jeff Sessions from Alabama) who said the Democrats stripped it out of the stimulus bill, and that's all the proof he needs. Kass doesn't know if the provision was taken out in hopes of getting more Republican support. I guess, like Kass, we can all speculate. Or could it be because E-Verify still has its problems?

And from my reading, E-Verify does have its problems (or see here or here or here). Maybe Kass should question whether the program's glitches and shortcomings aren't to blame for its disappearance from the bill. Or maybe Kass should just focus on more important issues altogether, like our failing economy and rising unemployment rates. E-Verify makes little difference to people when there aren't jobs to apply for, or when companies can't afford to hire more employees.

I could care less about the reason E-Verify disappeared from the Senate version of the bill. I could care less about some program that is supposed to verify someone's eligibility to work in this country, because by the time an illegal immigrant gets to the point that he or she tries to apply for a job, he or she is already in this country. If Kass is serious about illegal immigration, he should be writing columns about immigration reform. E-Verify is a too-late solution to a much bigger problem. And we have plenty of problems to tackle right now.

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