Sen. James Lankford is pushing changes to President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to ensure that tax dollars do not go to federal contractors who employ illegal aliens.
Mr. Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, has offered an amendment to the infrastructure bill requiring federal contractors, bidding for projects paid for by the package, to use E-Verify.
The federal program, which is run by the Department of Homeland Security, allows business owners to determine whether potential employees are citizens or at least eligible to work in the U.S.
“We should build America by hiring Americans,” said Mr. Lankford. “It should be a no-brainer that if the Biden administration wants to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure, those jobs should go to American citizens.”
E-Verify has been around since 1996 and is mandatory in eight states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. Its impact has been found to reduce the number of illegal immigrants residing in those states, according to a 2016 study by the IZA Journal of Development and Migration.
Mr. Lankford said such provisions were needed now more than ever. Since Mr. Biden took office, a full-blown migration crisis has metastasized at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In July alone, immigration officials encountered nearly 6,000 migrants a day attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Overall, more than 188,000 illegal migrants were apprehended last month, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Mr. Lankford argues that economic incentives, particularly good-paying jobs, were drawing illegal immigrants to the U.S.
“The real root cause of illegal immigration is the good-paying American jobs,” Mr. Lankford said. “The Democrats’ infrastructure bill should not incentivize more illegal immigration during this border crisis.”
It is unclear if the amendment will receive the 60 votes needed to be included in the 2,702-page infrastructure bill. While support from Republicans is assured in the evenly split Senate, support from Democrats will be difficult to garner.
Democratic opposition to immigration measures was evidenced on Wednesday, when lawmakers defeated an infrastructure amendment by Sen. Ron Johnson to prevent the federal government from canceling border wall contracts.
Mr. Johnson, Wisconsin Republican and former chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, offered the amendment because “securing the border has become a partisan issue.”
“The American taxpayer needs to understand they will be on the hook for billions of dollars, tens of thousands of tons of steel that’s already been produced, all that waste,” said Mr. Johnson.
Democrats, however, were unsympathetic, blocking the amendment by a near party-line vote.