Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform in this July 6, 2009 Legislative Weekly…
New FAIR Report Shows Reducing Immigration Would Lower Carbon Emissions
Senate to Consider Homeland Security Spending Bill
States, Employers Advance with E-Verify While Feds Continue to Obstruct Program
New FAIR Report Shows Reducing Immigration Would Lower Carbon Emissions
A new report released last week by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) shows that immigration-fueled population growth has been the single largest contributing factor to the increase in U.S. energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over the past 35 years. Authored by FAIR’s Director of Special Projects Jack Martin, the report comes just days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (See FAIR’s Press Release, July 1, 2009).
According to the report (entitled Immigration, Energy, and the Environment), Americans actually achieved more than a nine percent reduction in per capita energy consumption between 1973 and 2007. During that same time period, however, the U.S. population increased nearly 70 percent, with more than 31 percent of that increase directly attributable to legal immigration alone. (In addition, the report notes that “the share of population growth attributable to immigration is still higher when illegal immigration and the children born to the immigrants after their arrival are included.”) This population increase led to a 33 percent increase in American energy consumption from 1973 to 2007 – an increase that can be attributed primarily to U.S. population growth over that period.
The House of Representatives recently passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, legislation more commonly referred to as “Cap-and-Trade.” The bill seeks to, among other things, “cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” a move that supporters of the legislation suggest would help fight global climate change. However, the bill fails to address the principle cause of the problem it is seeking to solve: immigration generated population growth. (H.R. 2454).
According to Immigration, Energy, and the Environment, “Any effort by the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must take population growth into account.” The report goes on to point out that the central component of an energy policy that deals with population growth “must include an effective and enforceable immigration policy that curbs immigration levels to the point that it is no longer driving U.S. population growth.”
Later this week, the U.S. Senate will debate the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Homeland Security spending bill. This legislation sets spending levels for a wide range of departments and programs that deal with immigration enforcement, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). (S.1298, June 18, 2009).
As currently constituted, the bill would provide $10.1 billion for CBP, a $347 million funding increase from FY2009. This total includes:
$800 million for Southwest border investments under the Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology (BSFIT) account, a $25 million increase from FY2009. (Senate Appropriations Committee Summary, June 18, 2009). The mission of the BSFIT account is to fund “the technology and tactical infrastructure solutions to achieve effective control of the U.S. borders and coastlines.” (House Report 111-157).
$40 million in BSFIT funding for Northern border security technology, equal to the FY2009 spending level.
$3.5 billion to fund 20,019 Border Patrol agents. Of these, 17,000 will be based on the Southwest border.
$145 million for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), a program that seeks to enhance border security through the standardization of travel documentation. (Senate Appropriations Committee Summary, June 18, 2009; For more on WHTI, see FAIR’s Legislative Update, June 1, 2009).
ICE would receive $5.445 billion under the bill, an increase of $455.9 million from FY2009. This funding includes:
$1 billion “to identify dangerous criminal aliens and prioritize these individuals for removal once an immigration judge orders them deported.” (Senate Appropriations Committee Summary, June 18, 2009).
$196 million for Secure Communities, a program that seeks to identify and deport illegal aliens booked into local jails. (Id.; For more on Secure Communities, see FAIR’s Legislative Update, May 26, 2009).
$139 million for worksite enforcement investigations, including funding designated for the hiring of “100 special agents to perform audits of employers.” (Senate Appropriations Committee Summary, June 18, 2009).
The bill allocates $136 million for USCIS, a $34 million increase from FY2009. This total includes:
$5 million to facilitate the naturalization of immigrants serving in the U.S. armed services.
$118.5 million for E-Verify, the online, electronically operated system that allows employers to quickly and easily verify that their new hires are legally authorized to work in the U.S. The bill would extend E-Verify for three years. (Id.; For more on E-Verify, see FAIR’s E-Verify Backgrounder). The House version of the legislation contains only a two year E-Verify extension. (See FAIR’s Legislative Update, June 29, 2009).
Senators will have the opportunity to offer amendments to alter the bill once floor debate begins. Once the Senate passes the bill, the bill will go to a House-Senate conference to resolve any differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.
While states and employers steadily increase their use of E-Verify – the federal program that allows employers to verify the work eligibility of new hires – the Obama Administration and congressional leadership appear to be undermining the popular and effective program.
Last week, Mississippi continued to expand its own use of E-Verify as part of a gradual phase-in of mandatory statewide E-Verify usage. The Mississippi Employment Protection Act, which became law in March 2008, set a three-year timetable for mandatory E-Verify usage for all employers. On July 1, 2008, the law required all Mississippi state agencies and subdivisions and all employers with 250 or more employees to begin using E-Verify. On July 1, 2009, the law required all employers with 100 or more employees to begin using E-Verify. Employers with 30 or more employees will be required to use E-Verify as of July 1, 2010, and all employers regardless of size will be required to use E-Verify as of July 1, 2011. (Mississippi Legislature, 2008 Regular Session; Ogletree Deakins, April 4, 2008; FYIScreening.com, June 25, 2009; and SunHerald.com, June 29, 2009).
Meanwhile, South Carolina continued with its own expansion of mandatory in-state E-Verify usage. July 1, 2009, was the deadline for expansion of mandatory E-Verify usage to all South Carolina employers with 100 or more employees under the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 2008. The newest group of employers joins all state agencies and subdivisions and employers with 500 or more employees, all of whom were made subject to the law beginning in January 2009. In addition to its employment verification requirements, the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act also provided rules for employer treatment of discovered illegal alien employees and penalties for businesses that fail to comply with the new law. The law will ultimately require all in-state employers to use E-Verify as of July 1, 2010. (FYIScreening.com, June 25, 2009; and The Island Packet, July 1, 2009).
As states like Mississippi and South Carolina expand their E-Verify usage – and employers continue to sign up for the federal verification program in record numbers (USA Today, June 24, 2009) – the White House and the House and Senate majorities have ignored the growing demand for E-Verify. Congress has even seemed at times to be attacking the effective verification program by discouraging employers from using it and blocking its long-term extension. The Obama Administration recently initiated a fourth delay of the Department of Defense rule that would have required most federal contractors to screen all new hires and most employees working on federal contracts with E-Verify.
In addition, Democratic House and Senate leadership have opposed attempts by some members of Congress to reauthorize E-Verify in recent months. House leaders recently went so far as to block debate and votes on several proposed E-Verify amendments during a recent House Rules Committee hearing and have repeatedly rejected several other E-Verify amendments outright at recent House Appropriations Committee hearings. (For a detailed review of recent E-Verify’s legislative history, see FAIR’s Legislative Updates for June 8, 2009; June 15, 2009; June 22, 2009; and June 29, 2009). Congressional resistance to E-Verify, however, is not sitting well with an increasing number of members of Congress, including some so-called Blue Dog Democrats. The Blue Dogs have recently become vocal about their dissatisfaction with their own party’s lack of leadership on the issue, and have urged the Obama Administration to fully implement the E-Verify federal contractor rule. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 2009; KCPW, June 24, 2009; and TheSpectrum.com, June 24, 2009).