By Shelby Mullis
Victoria Spartz, born and raised in Ukraine, came to the United States in 2000 as an immigrant at only 21 years old.
Now, 16 years later, Spartz said it’s the freedom and opportunity to succeed that makes her proud to be call herself an American citizen—and it’s for that reason that Spartz testified at Wednesday’s Senate hearing on immigration
“This is a difficult issue and I know it is hard for a politician to attack,” Spartz said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a legal citizen or illegal here—it doesn’t matter who you are—this is an issue that affects our country.”
Spartz said it’s up to the government to properly control immigration.
“I don’t think anyone can say we don’t have a problem,” she said.
Wednesday’s meeting—the third of six—featured testimonies from several individuals and organizations concerning the effect of “unauthorized aliens” on the state’s economy, as well as Indiana’s workforce and wages.
A hot topic at Wednesday’s meeting revolved around the credibility of E-Verify, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services online program used by national companies to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.
Society for Human Resources Management Director Chris Schafer said the government-run website is ineffective. As he spoke before committee Wednesday, Schafer said E-Verify cannot authenticate the identity of a potential employee. He pointed to the limitations of using paper documents that can be easily falsified, forged or stolen.
Members of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce joined Schafer to testify against E-Verify. Jon Baselice, a member of the chamber, said unless legal immigration is improved, E-Verify will not be the solution for “illegal immigration.”
However, Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said he expects some form of the E-Verify system to always continue in a post 9/11 world.
As for Spartz, she said her hope is that her testimony gives the state of Indiana motivation to confront the issue of immigration while continuing to listen to both sides of the spectrum.
“We’re a country of immigrants. We’re a country of the best of the best,” Spartz said. “It’s important to have healthy immigration, to have controlled immigration, to have a strong country, because we are the only country that still has the most freedoms in the world and the best we can do is to be strong enough to help other countries.”
The next committee meeting is scheduled for Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.