Romney Calls For New Government Program

One big problem with that. It already exists:

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney suggested there was no way a landscaping company that worked for him could have known its employees were illegal aliens even though the federal government has an employer verification system that any employer in America, on a voluntary basis, can use for free.

And while the system already exists and is in use, Romney called for creating one during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. A Romney spokesman said the governor meant to say he wanted to make the system mandatory for all businesses.

Yeah, sure he did. Because the only way one can be expected to to possibly know something is to make it mandatory that you know it. For example, if it had been mandatory that politicians seeking to be nominated and eventually elected President of the United States know what they are talking about, then Romney would have never made this mistake.

Romney continued: “That’s the very reason why we so desperately need in this country an employment verification system, so that an employer who is hiring people can know who’s here legally or illegally.”

Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades on Tuesday clarified what the candidate meant.

“Unlike the current system, Gov. Romney believes that the employment verification system should be mandatory and use tamper-proof ID cards with biometric information,” Rhoades told Cybercast News Service. “This is a far cry from what we are doing now.”

The federal government’s employment verification program has been in place in some form since 1997 — first as a pilot program — and was expanded nationally in 2005 on a voluntary basis.

It is called E-Verify and should “absolutely” eliminate any excuses employers have for not knowing the legal status of a worker, said Veronica Valdes, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“E-Verify is a free and simple-user, web-based system,” Valdes told Cybercast News Service.

Rhoades attempted to clarify the clarification:

RHOADES: What he really meant to say was that we need is some sort of verification system that’s mandatory for those entering this country to verify who they are and why they’re here. In fact, Gov. Romney is putting together a proposal as we speak for a Cabinet level position that would check in and check out each and every visitor to this country, and those who are here only on a temporary basis will have to have some sort of chit, or certificate, or other verification …

CNS: Like a visa?

RHOADES: Sure, yeah. Like a visa …

CNS: Doesn’t the INS already do this?

RHOADES: …

CNS:

RHOADES: Uhhh … mmmmm … Look Paris Hilton!

We here at ASHC have not yet confirmed that was an exact quote, so “grain of salt” and all … (ahem).

In order to demonstrate his grasp of the issue, Romney further ruminated on the need for such a program, as a guest on the TV show of renowned immigration expert, Bill O’Reilly:

During an interview Monday on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Romney again stressed the need for a verification system and said: “We have it today. We have a Social Security database. But they just don’t let employers know whether it’s a valid Social Security number until well after they hired someone.”

Host Bill O’Reilly said: “Well, yeah. Employers don’t have access to it.” Romney responded: “Yeah. They can’t say, is this a valid …” and then he was interrupted for a commercial break.

During the O’Reilly interview, Romney also said: “This is not impossible. This is the sort of thing the private sector could do in a few weeks. But we’re going to have to get the political will to finally enforce our laws and put in place this kind of system.”

I guess O’Reilly’s researchers missed this:

Since 1997, 30,000 employers have signed up to use the system, Valdes said. Since August, when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that all federal contractors and vendors would be required to use E-Verify, about 1,000 new users per month have logged on to the system.

Oh well, none of them should feel too bad. After all, even the people who created it don’t know anything about it:

There has been a lot of confusion about the system, said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for Numbers USA, an immigration research group that supports making E-Verify mandatory for all businesses in the United States.

“There are a lot of ways to make it mandatory,” she told Cybercast News Service. “Virtually no one in Congress knows much about the program, partly because virtually no one in Congress uses it.”

When reached for comment, Romney’s campaign manager could be heard in the background counseling the former governor to “Dive! Dive! Dive!”

That last quote may not be an actual … um, “quote” either. [/grainofsalt]

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