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State Sen. Julian Garrett ushered his mandatory E-Verify bill through the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon. The bill passed on a party-line vote.

Garrett said the bill requires Iowa employers to use the federal E-Verify program when hiring employees. Currently, more than 5,000 Iowa employers voluntarily use the system, but Garrett believes the bill would get many more involved.

When hiring a new employee, businesses gather certain identifiable information, Garrett said. That information is turned into the federal government as well as the state government.

“This will just add one more small step to that process,” Garrett said. “For most people, it would mean submitting their social security card and their driver’s license.”

The employer then sends the information into Work Force Development to have it certified.

However, if a business knowingly violates the law and hires an illegal alien, then it would lose its license, which they could get back if they fire the employee who is not in the country legally. The second offense, however, would result in the possibility of losing their license.

Democrat State Sen. Kevin Kinney noted this is the fourth year working on the bill and, after supporting it in year one, cannot any longer.

Kinney said groups that differ like the CATO Institute and the ACLU both registered against the bill. He also mentioned a few other lobbyist groups that oppose the bill.

Garrett said Kinney was using the same arguments from before.

“Lobbyists don’t like this bill,” he said. “Well, who does like it? Your constituents. Polls have shown overwhelming support from the general public for legislation of this type to make sure that people who are being hired are in the country legally.”

The law, Garrett said, would help fix the playing field in Iowa. Currently, it is “extremely unfair,” he said, for businesses that are complying with the law while others do not and are able to cut costs by hiring people who are here illegally and will work for substandard wages.

“It’s also very unfair for Iowans who are looking for a job to have to compete with these same folks who undercut their wages,” Garrett said.

The bill is now eligible for debate in the full Senate.

Author: Jacob Hall