VIDEO: Lou Dobbs vs. Lou Dobbs
On May 15, 2008, Lou Dobbs claimed that a voluntary employment verification system, commonly known as Basic Pilot or E-Verify, “works,” despite mounting evidence the system contains major flaws, and despite contrary assessments from his own show and other news programs on CNN.
DOBBS: Let's get everyone's sponsors on our Web site and let everybody know how they can contact them and also of course Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House because this is an outrage. What they are trying to do is to stop the efforts of the local and state level to curtail illegal immigration in using E-Verify. They are trying to get E-Verify to go away, because as you reported, it works.1In a May 6 hearing before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, multiple experts informed Congress about potential problems with a national mandatory E-Verify system. The GAO reported several flaws in the current E-Verify system, including vulnerability to document fraud, errors in the databases at DHS and SSA, and employer noncompliance with program procedures to protect the privacy and civil rights of employees.2 Former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly discussed how a mandatory E-Verify system would further strain an already understaffed and underfunded Social Security Administration, and ultimately harm seniors and people with disabilities.3 MALDEF President John Trasviña warned that expanding E-Verify would “increase [workplace] discrimination against Latinos and other national origin minorities.”4
All Lou needed to do was look to his own network to find evidence that E-Verify is not working, at least not in the way it was meant to:
KAYE (voice-over): It's a mess. Business owners say the immigration law backfired. Illegal workers once made up about 11 percent of Arizona's workforce. But with the crackdowns, thousands simply left. Two months ago, an economist predicted eight percent of Arizona's population would disappear and the state would lose tens of billions of dollars in economic output because of the new law. Hardest hit? Agriculture, tourism, hospitality, construction…Even more surprising is the fact that Dobbs himself railed against E-Verify, then known as Basic Pilot, only a year earlier during the debate over comprehensive immigration reform:
We asked what will Arizona do now? Turns out lawmakers are now considering a plan to try to get the illegal immigrants back again. That's right, they're doing a 180, oops…
Even this man, Russell Pierce, the state senator who pushed through the current tough immigration law is softening. In a stunning reversal, he now admits the state needs the immigrants back, but only for agricultural jobs.
PEARCE: Crops have to be brought in. But I don't need them here to wash my car, mow my lawn or do I need to eat at fast food restaurants.
KAYE: But Pearce is trying to have it both ways. He wants the labor but he doesn't want the laborers. So his plan ...
PEARCE: Doesn't lead to citizenship, doesn't lead to any permanent status, can't bring family with you, can't come here and have your babies, can't come here and be a burden on the taxpayer. Come here, work, earn your wages, pay your taxes and go home when it's done.
KAYE: So, while the “Whoops, we have no workers” debate continues in Arizona, business owners keep an eye on the border, hoping the "Keep Out" sign is soon replaced by "Help Wanted."5
DOBBS: [T]he illegal immigration compromise will require employers to verify all new hires within 18 months, but the existing electronic verification system, we're told, is riddled with problems. Will it ever work? Who knows?...We find it more than a mere coincidence that Dobbs opposed E-Verify when it was part of the comprehensive immigration compromise, but seems to endorse it when it is part of a deportation-only bill. Fudging the facts for his own agenda isn’t anything new for Lou, but directly contradicting himself and his reporters is just a new indication of his declining credibility.
At the same time, there is rising criticism of one of the bill's key provisions, an electronic system that would verify new hires. A pilot program already in use is a failure…
On the issue of jobs, the new so-called comprehensive immigration reform compromise would require employers to ensure all employees have the right to work in this country legally. But it appears the computer system under this government proposal is riddled with considerable problems, from prone to frequent errors, to simply won't work…
MESERVE: A more fundamental flaw, Basic Pilot cannot detect when a worker is using documents and information that belong to someone else. Case in point, although Swift & Company meat packing participated in Basic Pilot, recent immigration raids of to their plants netted more than 1,000 illegal workers.
The program is being upgraded to give employers photos to help with verification. President Bush got a look this week. But critics are unimpressed. They say Basic Pilot cannot do the job.
JAMES CARAFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's just like taking a -- taking a local baseball team and saying, OK, go to the World Series. It's just not going to work.6
1. Lou Dobbs Tonight. CNN. Aired May 15, 2008
2. Richard Stana. "Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the House Committee on Ways and Means." May 6, 2008
3. The Honorable Barbara Kennelly. "Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the House Committee on Ways and Means." May 6, 2008
4. John Trasviña. "Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the House Committee on Ways and Means." May 6, 2008
5. CNN Newsroom. CNN. Aired May 2, 2008
6. Lou Dobbs Tonight. CNN. Aired May 18, 2007