Immigration Reform 2013: Mike Lee Wants Janitors, Maids E-Verify Exempt

ByDaffany Chan

As the Senate's gang of eight moves through examination by Congress committees, it has received numerous proposals for amendments. According to the Washington Examiner, the Republicans, who had 194 proposals, outnumbered the Democrats who had 106 proposals.

Particularly notable, though, was Republican Senator Mike Lee's proposal. In his proposal, he pushes for household professions such as maids, cooks, and janitors to be exempt from E-Verify.

E-Verify is a program run by the federal government where employers can check the legal status of an employee. By proposing to eliminate E-Verify for low-paying professions, Lee is simply advocating for the government to ignore the legal status of poor immigrants in order to continue having and using cheap labor. 

This proposal has the opposite effect of positive comprehensive reform to aid undocumented workers; instead, it will severely curb the rights of immigrants. It will open up illegal immigrants to employer abuse, as they will be able to underpay workers.

Lee's rational for proposing the exemption of low-paid workers from E-Verify is that he doesn't want to "penalize anyone for giving twenty dollars to the kid down the street to mow the lawn," according to the Huffington Post. This rationale is a ridiculous attempt to mask the true implication of his proposal: To continue reaping the benefits of cheap, underpaid labor. 

Lee's proposal is not only ridiculous, but representative of many Republican members of Congress' extremely hypocritical attitudes toward undocumented workers. Senator Jeff Sessions, for example, hopes to pass an amendment that allows immigrants citizenship only if their average annual income exceeds four times the federal poverty line, or over $94,000 a year. While the Republicans hope to reap the benefits of cheap labor, they also staunchly push to raise the barriers for poor illegal immigrants to stay in the country.

The amendments offered to the bill by Senators such as Lee and Sessions are simply shameful, inherently infringing on the rights of undocumented workers. In order to work toward comprehensive reform, these Senators must first shed their selfish and biased motives.