Contact: Caroline Tabler or James Arnold (202) 224-2353
February 23, 2021


Cotton, Romney Bill to Raise Minimum Wage, Stop Employment of Illegal Immigrants  

Washington, D.C.  Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) released the details of the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, a bill that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10 and mandate E-Verify to ensure the wage increase only goes to legal workers.

The bill will also index future minimum wage increases to inflation and includes protections for small businesses. Full details may be found here.

“American workers today compete against millions of illegal immigrants for too few jobs with wages that are too low—that’s unfair. Ending the black market for illegal labor will open up jobs for Americans. Raising the minimum wage will allow Americans filling those jobs to better support their families. Our bill does both,” said Cotton. 

“For millions of Americans, the rising cost of living has made it harder to make ends meet, but the federal minimum wage has not been increased in more than ten years. Our legislation would raise the floor for workers without costing jobs and increase the federal minimum wage to $10, automatically raising it every two years to match the rate of inflation. Additionally, our bill would protect American jobs by requiring employers to use E-Verify to ensure that businesses cannot hire illegal immigrants. We must create opportunities for American workers and protect their jobs, while also eliminating one of the key drivers of illegal immigration,” said Romney.

Bill Highlights

Minimum Wage Increase:

  • Gradually raises the federal minimum wage to $10 by 2025, and then indexes it to inflation every two years.
  • Creates a slower phase-in for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
  • Prevents any increase during the Covid-19 emergency. 

Mandatory E-Verify:

  • Mandates E-Verify for all employers, phasing in implementation over 18 months to allow small businesses additional time to comply.
  • Raises civil and criminal penalties on employers that hire unauthorized aliens and/or violate I-9 paperwork requirements. 
  • Prevents fraud by requiring workers 18 and older to provide a photo ID to their employer for verification, which will be cross-referenced if a photo is available through the E-Verify system.