SAVE Act

AGC Urges Congress to Oppose SAVE Act

December 5, 2007

Dear Senator/Representative:

On behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), I am writing to voice our adamant opposition to H.R. 4088 and S. 2368, the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act).  AGC is a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform that will defend both the economic and national security needs of our country.  The SAVE Act, while seeking to help defend our national security needs, is not comprehensive in nature and does not present a viable solution to secure our country’s economic needs. 

AGC is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States.  AGC represents more than 32,000 firms, including 7,000 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 11,000 specialty-contracting firms though a network of chapters in all fifty states.  Construction employs more than 7 million people in this country and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that construction employment will add at least 180,000 net new workers annually.

In addition to lacking comprehensive reform, the SAVE Act will challenge employers, challenge existing technologies and challenge the veracity of government databases.  AGC has previously stated that the inclusion of an accurate and reliable worker verification mechanism for our members should be part of comprehensive reform.  Unfortunately, the system and process laid out in the SAVE Act will not solve this problem.

AGC concerns with the SAVE Act include:

  • A mandate that all employers must eventually use the Basic Pilot/E-Verify program without any benchmarks or thresholds for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) requiring them to address systematic information deficiencies and a vastly increased workload volume.
  • Allows for information sharing between DHS, SSA and the Internal Revenue Service without mandates for the agencies to address outdated and inaccurate databases.
  • No requirement for DHS to fix well documented user problems of E-Verify before mandating all employers to use the system. 
  • A redundant re-verification mandate for employers to check all current, and potentially former employees, that have already been authorized to work under current law.
  • A requirement for employers to immediately terminate current employees if they are found to be non-eligible by the Basic Pilot/E-Verify program without any opportunity for the employer or the employee to address legitimate problems such as typos, or out of date information in the system.  Transposed numbers or a name change by a newly married female employee could result in termination for example.
  • No liability protections for employers who follow the SAVE Act’s mandates and fire current employees or deny employment to a person based on the results of E-Verify from discrimination lawsuits in the event that they are actually legal to work in our country.
  • No federal preemption to ensure that there is uniform immigration policy for businesses to follow with the exception of disallowing states to opt out of E-Verify.
  • Mandates that SSA send a no-match letter to every employer with one or more employees with a no-match.  Then gives an employer and employee only ten days to try to fix the problem.  Even the DHS no-match rule would have given ninety days to fix the problem
  • Potential new paperwork burdens for employers with regard to the SAVE Act’s tax provisions including  assessment of tax debt, collection or garnishment of wages and retroactive liability for employee tax debts owned for the 2007 tax year.

Employers can and want to be part of the solution.  Many in Congress have chosen to make business the scapegoat in the immigration debate and have failed to recognize that our country’s failed immigration policies have created the situation we are in today.  The SAVE Act mandates that employers use the  flawed E  verify program that to date has been voluntary without even at least holding the federal government accountable is an affront to employers and employees alike.

This is a federal issue that will not be solved by a myriad of reactionary state and local laws or a piecemeal legislative approach in Washington, DC.  It is clear that our country needs new immigration policies, but Congress needs to take a reasonable, realistic, and comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

AGC has worked, and wants to continue to work, with Congress to find a way to change the status quo.  Rather than only seeking to punish employers, we believe Congress should work with employers on addressing the economic needs of this country while also working to secure our borders.

Sincerely,

Kelly Krauser Knott
Director, Government Relations