Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, March 7, 2012
Fed up with Republican congressional leaders, a group advocating a crackdown on immigration will begin running ads Thursday demanding that House Speaker John A. Boehner allow a vote on legislation requiring businesses to use E-Verify, the government database to check workers’ legal status.
NumbersUSA, the group sponsoring the ads, accused Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republican House leaders of blocking the bill over fears that it will anger Hispanic voters in an election year. But NumbersUSA says enacting the bill — which cleared a key committee in September but has since stalled — would help clear out unauthorized workers and open those jobs for Americans.
“Our gloves are off,” said Roy Beck, executive director of the group, who noted that his organization has pushed for action behind the scenes without success.
He said the group is now ready to take the issue public with radio and television ads designed to force the GOP to choose between politics and American workers.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, blamed the legislative process for the bill’s delay.
“Speaker Boehner has supported legislation with E-Verify in the past, and the issue is currently working its way through the committee process,” Mr. Steel told The Washington Times in an email.
The E-Verify bill, sponsored by House Judiciary CommitteeChairmanLamar Smith, passed out of the Texas Republican’s committee on a 22-13 vote last year and is sitting in the Ways and Means Committee. A spokeswoman for that committee didn’t return a message seeking comment.
Mr. Beck said the blockade is by design and that he has heard from people who said Mr. Boehner told them he won’t take up the bill in an election year.
“Republican House Speaker John Boehner refuses to let the House of Representatives vote on E-Verify,” the group’s radio ad says, telling voters to call Mr. Boehner and demand that he hold a vote on the bill. “If he refuses, ask him why Republicans deserve your vote in November.”
Mr. Obama‘s administration has said he wants E-Verify to be made mandatory, but only as part of an overall legalization of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.
Meanwhile, three of the four Republican presidential candidates have called for E-Verify to be made mandatory as part of their security-first approach. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is the only one who has rejected the idea, arguing that it would turn businesses into immigration police forces.
Mr. Beck said Republicans should see the issue as a winner, not a political liability. He said Democrats already have enough ammunition to attack Republicans for their stance on cracking down on illegal immigration, and there is little left for the GOP to lose by pushing for E-Verify.