Introduced by Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), HB 4052 proposed a mandate on all state agencies to use the federal E-Verify system. E-Verify is an internet-based computer database run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that is used by some businesses to verify the work eligibility of employees. The system is widely understood to be flawed and often inaccurate, each error increasing the risk that a U.S. citizen or legal U.S. worker could be denied employment and a paycheck because of the mistake.

The state of Oregon, like the federal government, already verifies the eligibility of job applicants and prohibits those of undocumented status from receiving employment. Mandating the use of E-Verify will only serve to erect further bureaucratic barriers to employment for eligible workers who are already struggling in this recessed economy. The system could be set off by any number of errors, including mis-spellings, typos, or transposed numbers, and it could be very difficult or confusing for a worker to navigate the process simply to clear them up.

In our view, HB 4052 is an attempt by its proponents to play into discriminatory anti-immigrant sentiment in our state, but present it as a measure to help the unemployed. For several sessions now this messaging has not fooled the legislature. Just like similar bills introduced in prior sessions, HB 4052 failed to receive even a hearing in committee.