DECATUR, Ala. - Alabama Senator Arthur Orr is working to gain support for a bill in the state legislature that would affect foreign national employees without work authorization.
Sen. Orr (R-Decatur) is drafting a bill that would require employers to sign an affidavit when applying for a business license, swearing that they are registered for and use E-Verify verify employees' eligibility to work.
"If employers weren't hiring those that are not eligible or here illegally, then a lot of the illegal immigration problem we are seeing today and the big debate in Washington would be solved," Orr said.
He said he looked at Alabama's E-Verify participation numbers and noticed something he wants to correct.
"In Alabama, our percentage is in the 60 percent range. If you go across the state line over in Georgia it's in the 90 plus percent range," he said. "So the question becomes, why is Georgia so substantially using E-Verify more than we are here in Alabama?"
He said upon looking into the issue, he noticed Georgia is already doing the affidavit requirement.
"Georgia requires that employer to sign an affidavit that the employees they are hiring, and going to hire, have been E-Verified. So every year the HR person or whoever would go to get their business license-- they have to fill out this affidavit that they are truly E-Verifying there in Georgia."
He said the Alabama legislature already passed a law, called The Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer & Citizen Protection Act, that requires all employers within the State of Alabama to verify the legal presence of their employees. He wants to make sure they're following through.
"The thinking would be, very minimal no-cost effort on the employer, but a reminder and a sworn affidavit there at city hall, that, 'Yes, we are E-Verifying there at my company,'" he said.
Orr said he does not fault law enforcement for any lapse in enforcing the existing law, but he wants an "easy" reminder for employers to fall in line.
"I've talked to roofer type companies where the owner says, 'I can't compete against my competition that does nothing but hire illegal aliens,'" he said. "I think it would provide a better enforcement mechanism of a law that's already on the books."