Gov. Perry follows in Obama’s footsteps with an immigration executive order of his own

When President Obama could not get what he wanted from Congress on immigration, he simply issued an executive order. Now, it seems Governor Rick Perry is following President Obama’s example.

The Legislature has on multiple occasions rejected mandatory E-Verify. Now Perry’s made an end run around them and mandated it on his own through an executive order. On December 3, Perry issued Executive Order RP80 requiring Texas State Agencies and private entities seeking state contracts to use E-verify, not only on new hires, but on current and prospective employees including subcontractors.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is suing President Obama over his immigration executive order, so you have to wonder whether he will now sue Perry for bypassing the Texas Legislature.

In 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature defeated mandatory E-verify. They recognized that immigration reform at the national level must come first. Attempts to pass E-verify legislation in a special session were also unsuccessful. The 83rd Texas Legislature likewise refused to impose mandatory E-verify on Texas businesses.

Why did lawmakers here refuse to adopt mandatory E-verify? Here just are a few reasons:

  1. After listening to hundreds of business owners, legislators agreed it would be bad for Texas.
  2. The use of E-verify would drive more workers away from employers that are deducting and matching Social Security and Medicare taxes and paying employment taxes.
  3. Those workers will go to work for employers that will misclassify them as “independent contractors.” We will lose the payroll taxes, and the workers will not be covered by workers compensation, therefore they will go to emergency rooms where taxpayers get to pick up the costs.
  4. Governor Perry’s executive order requires state agencies to enforce compliance. Enforcement will take a lot of additional manpower. This is the kind of thing we Republicans usually call an "unfunded mandate."

Maybe Governor Perry does not realize that his executive order instructs state agencies to force contractors to violate the rules set forth by federal law. As noted, the governor’s executive order requires contractors to use E-verify on existing and prospective employees as a condition for being awarded a state contract.

Employers using the E-Verify system must execute a Memorandum of Understanding with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The MOU explicitly prohibits the employer from using E-verify for existing and prospective employees. The Governor's executive order puts Texas contractors in an impossible position. They cannot comply with the order without violating the federal government's rules on the use of E-verify.

To be crystal clear: Prospective employees are different from new hires. E-verify is designed to be used on “new hires.” A prospective employee must first receive an offer from the employer and then must accept the offer. At that point the applicant is a new hire and, according to the MOU, the employer can submit that person to E-verify.

Please contact Governor Perry and ask him to rescind this executive order. Next, contact Attorney General Abbott and ask him to inform the Governor that his own executive order will force contractors to violate their agreements with the federal government.

Governor Rick Perry
State Capitol
Room 2S.1
1100 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701
Phone 512-463-2000

Attorney General Greg Abbott
Price Daniel Sr. Building
209 W. 14th St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone 512-463-2191
[email protected]

If enough employers contact Governor Perry and General Abbott, I pray it will make a difference.


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