Jun 15, 2011

Immigration Politics: Farmers, farmworker groups react to possible E-Verify future

Farmers, farmworker groups react to possible E-Verify future - latimes.com: "Amid controversy over this week's efforts to revive a federal E-Verify program, farmers are finding themselves with a slight reprieve.

The bill, which came back on Tuesday when Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Legal Workforce Act, would require businesses in the U.S. to verify the immigration status of all new hires by running their information through a government database.

Farmers in California and across the nation have long railed against such a requirement, arguing that it would essentially eradicate their workforce. They also maintain that the current system for hiring legal immigrant workers is too costly and difficult to use, and that, even with the nation's unemployment rate still high, few Americans would be willing to take low-paying, physically taxing jobs laboring in a field.

Smith told reporters earlier this week that those concerns are why the bill includes an exception for employers in agriculture: They would have three years to implement such checks, and farm operators and other agricultural employers would not have to verify the legal status of previously hired seasonal workers."

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