Judging by the number of folks charged with driving under influence I am guessing the penalty is rather light. Of...

Expand E-Verify, issue more worker visas

Miami Science Museum-2

Workers pour concrete at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami. A 2017 study confirmed that undocumented workers typically do the nation's most unpleasant, back-breaking jobs. An Associated General Contractors survey in Texas last year showed firms couldn’t find enough construction site laborers.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Caught repeatedly in the exaggeration that thousands of terrorists enter the United States by illegally crossing the Mexican border, President Trump has returned to making another debunked assertion: Undocumented immigrants are stealing jobs from people born in this country.

It isn’t true, but Trump is desperate to find a plausible reason for the government shutdown he engineered to get his border wall funded.

The stolen jobs canard was a staple for Trump during his 2016 election campaign. “They’re taking our jobs,” he said at a Phoenix rally. Trump resurrected the assertion last week in declaring a “crisis” at the border. “All Americans are hurt by illegal immigration,” he said. “It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.”

Trump gave a shout-out to the black and Hispanic communities because they are disproportionately poor. He wants people to believe workers in the country illegally are taking unskilled jobs that poor people want. Actually, studies show employers have a hard time filling low-wage jobs when there aren’t immigrants to hire.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, explained in a 2017 study that undocumented workers typically do the unpleasant, back-breaking jobs — gutting fish, working on farms, performing yard work — that native-born workers aren’t willing to do.

An Associated General Contractors survey last year showed Texas couldn’t find enough construction site laborers partly because of Trump’s immigration crackdown. “Construction has long had a much higher percentage of foreign-born workers than other industries,” said AGC chief economist Kenneth D. Simonson.

Even if Trump were right about undocumented workers stealing jobs, building a border wall isn’t the answer. He would have more success changing companies’ hiring practices by dusting off his campaign promise to “strengthen and expand” the E-Verify system, which requires employers to use an online tool provided by the federal government to determine a job applicant’s status.

Arizona has seen its number of unauthorized workers drop 33 percent below projections since it started using E-Verify in 2008, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Yet only seven other states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah — require private companies to use E-Verify. Only 10 percent of U.S. employers are enrolled in the system.

Previous legislation that would require all states to use E-Verify has been opposed by critics who fear legal residents could fall victim to inaccurate or outdated immigration data that has been provided by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Social Security Administration. The possibility of E-Verify being hacked has also been raised.

Those valid issues should be addressed in any new legislation to expand E-Verify, but the system should be required in every state. E-Verify can help stop unscrupulous employers from exploiting immigrants who fear complaining about poor pay or working conditions will lead to their deportation. E-Verify puts the onus on employers to make sure their work force is legal or face penalties for not following the law.

As the U.S. cracks down on employers’ use of undocumented workers, it should also look to broaden the ways immigrants can legally find work in our country. One way to begin would be for Congress to increase the number of H-2B temporary visas granted to seasonal and unskilled workers. That would help companies already struggling to find workers with the nation’s unemployment rate at historically low levels. H-2B workers typically go back and forth across the border without seeking permanent residency.

The best answer to America’s illegal immigration problem is comprehensive legislation that goes beyond unlawful border crossings to address the estimated 11.3 million people living in the country illegally.

Even under normal circumstances passing a comprehensive immigration bill has been next to impossible. Expanding E-Verify, however, shouldn’t be as difficult. Trump wants it. Republicans have sponsored bills to do it. Democrats might come aboard if Trump gives up his quixotic quest for a border wall and makes legal residency for the Dreamers part of the bargain.

It’s time to end the theatrics that led to the government shutdown. A wall where technology and more manpower would make more sense will do little to stem illegal border crossings and nothing to address the status of people who have lived here illegally for decades. Washington should start with E-Verify, then take the next step toward comprehensive immigration reform.

Houston Chronicle


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


April 20, 2019

There are some, who after winning election to the General Assembly and crossing the threshold of the Legislative Building in Raleigh believe they’ve been transformed.

They acquire knowledge and insight beyond that of the hoi polloi.

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April 16, 2019

The announcement that Kirstjen Nielsen was stepping down as Secretary of Homeland Security was sudden, but it wasn’t really a surprise. Never a favorite of President Trump, her days became numbered when her patron in the administration, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, resigned in December.…

Homeland Security Secretary-1

April 15, 2019

The day before his indictment was announced last week, Robin Hayes said he was stepping down as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party because of health issues. The next day, the public learned that what was driving Hayes from office wasn’t only his ailments, but the ill health of…

Republican Chairman

April 13, 2019

You know the game by now: A call comes into your mobile phone. A number pops up on your screen. You don’t recognize it. Your first instinct is to decline it, but what if it’s your child’s school? The auto repair guy? Something else? It’s a guessing game, and we’re the…

Kicking Robocalls-2

April 09, 2019

Walter Ginter began using heroin in the early 1970s while serving in the Army. By 1977, desperate to kick the habit, he turned to daily doses of methadone, a synthetic opioid that eases withdrawal and decreases cravings. The treatment worked.

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Opioid Lawsuit New York

April 08, 2019

One of the first things we teach our children is to never, ever get into a stranger’s car.

In the age of Uber and Lyft, we all need to relearn that lesson. Along with: The later you’re out at night, the greater your chances of running into the wrong person. And: It’s always safer…

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April 07, 2019

If you care about safe water for all, you should be celebrating the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to order Duke Energy to excavate coal ash from its power plant sites in the state. It was the right call for communities that for too long have been vulnerable to…

Duke Energy Coal Ash

April 07, 2019

As many of your readers are aware, State Treasurer Dale Folwell has chosen to forge ahead with his proposal to significantly alter the reimbursement strategy for health care providers who offer care under the State Health Plan. Citing concerns with the State Health Plan’s insolvency,…

April 06, 2019

Belatedly, it occurred to the Trump administration that closing the U.S.-Mexico border, as the president threatened, posed the risk of paralyzing manufacturing assembly lines, leaving grocery shelves bare and throwing the U.S. economy into a tailspin, if not outright recession. Bad idea.

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April 02, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court heard a lot last week about what is wrong with the way North Carolina’s congressional districts are laid out. There were no questions about the bad or the good.

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Supreme Court Redistricting-1
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