Is mandatory e-Verify another nail in the coffin?

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A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would make e-Verify mandatory for all businesses.

Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of the Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 2164, says the bill would open up jobs for unemployed American and legal immigrants.

“With unemployment at 9 percent, jobs are scarce. Despite record unemployment, seven million people work in the U.S. illegally. These jobs should go to legal workers,” Smith said in a recent statement.

The bill is opposed by many agricultural groups. Some conclude that mandatory e-Verify would destroy the agricultural industry. In a recent newspaper article, Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of Western Growers Association, stated that mandatory e-Verify would decimate the produce industry. Greg Wickham, chief executive officer of Dairylea Cooperative, says that the dairy industry would be in even worse shape than the produce industry.

Western Growers and Dairylea are not alone in their concerns. United Farm Workers Union and the Farmworker Justice are worried that a mandatory e-Verify bill will harm farmworkers. They point out that more than one-half of the nation’s seasonal farmworkers are undocumented.

“We don’t think mandatory e-Verify is the answer,” says a spokesperson for the United Farm Workers Union. “We think the answer is comprehensive immigration reform such as AgJobs.”

Legislation like, H.R. 2164 simply points out the need for the passage of some type of comprehensive immigration reform, says Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of the Western United Dairymen. Unfortunately, AgJobs has yet to gain the traction it needs to pass, he says.

“This is very short-sighted regulation,” Marsh says of the mandatory e-Verify proposal.

Opponents to H.R. 2164 agree that undocumented workers in agriculture cannot be replaced by Americans, since many of the jobs are ones that Americans don’t want to do. Case in point: The recent “Take Our Jobs” campaign that was launched last year to entice Americans to take agriculture jobs. Out of 8,600 inquiries, only 11 people took jobs in the field.

On June 15, the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement had a hearing on H.R. 2164, but no representatives of agriculture were asked to testify. In the week following the bill's introduction, Smith met with leaders in the agriculture industry and pledged to work with them going forward.

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Dr. Mauck    
Sullivan, IL  |  June, 21, 2011 at 10:10 AM

The only reason Americans "don't want to do" these jobs is that they can sit on their rear ends and collect welfare if they don't. There are plenty of able-bodied Americans who could be doing these kinds of jobs if they had to worry where their next meal was coming from as opposed to which new video game they were going to buy with their next welfare check. The 'safety-net' has become a much too-comfortable hammock for many Americans.

Jack P    
Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319  |  June, 21, 2011 at 10:34 AM

I wholeheartedly agreee with Dr. Mauck. We have created a culture of dependency and entitlement. Unemployment compensation and welfare were meant to be a safety net, not a hammock. Wedo not need undocumented workers in our country.

concerned citizen    
June, 21, 2011 at 10:12 AM knowledge they hire illegals. Shame on them.

Good luck with increased food costs    
ne  |  June, 21, 2011 at 10:44 AM

the average farm labor wage is low. Is there an American citizen who wants to work for low wages? Is there an American worker who wants to work 12 hour days? Is there an American worker who wants to work in fields in all types of weather contitions or in animal production where they deal with manure and other "dirty" work? I think the answer more times than not is no. Yet, those same Americans want to and neednto eat. The ag industry cannot afford to pay employees more because the pay the owners receive for their raw product does not allow them to. This is why our food prices though on the rise are still much below the prices in European countries.

Jack P    
Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319  |  June, 21, 2011 at 10:40 AM

I agree with Dr. Mauck. We have created a culture of dependency and entitlement in this country. Unemployment compensation and other forms of welfare were meant to provide a safety net. Unfortunately, the safety nets have morphed into hammocks. We do not need undocumente workers in our country.

OH  |  June, 21, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Are you going to pay far increased prices for your food so that US farmers can pay decent wages so that people working for them can afford the basic necessities? I doubt it.

PLATTSBURGH NY  |  June, 21, 2011 at 11:37 AM


new york  |  June, 21, 2011 at 12:13 PM

there are many Americans willing and able to do this work (even on holidays) they are called small farmers and are ridiculed by the factory farmers. this group of individuals are becoming a rare breed thru low farm gate prices and government over regulation. IMO in 20 years there will be very few small farms left then food prices will skyrocket.

Mama Farmer    
North Carolina  |  June, 22, 2011 at 05:57 AM

My husband and I are a little Mom & Pop farm producing chickens. We used to have a textile mill and had the same problem of trying to find Americans to work in a factory or now we have a farm and again cannot find workers. Yes we work 7 days a week regardless of whether it is Memorial day or Mothers day or Father Day. We work. We work because that is what pays the bills and keeps the farm going. Our textile mill is gone and we worked 7 days a week there too. Groups call us factory farmers but guess who feeds the country?? So now it is just him and I working our tails off to keep this farm going. If we need the occasional worker to help us during clean out or setup Americans don't want to do that labor intensive work. I agree with all the comments. The only ones that show up to ask for a job are illegals. This country is really in a pickle. If they pass this bill....what will happen? Really what will happen????

Rafael Jimenez    
California  |  June, 23, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Only farmers or ilegal aliens will work for low pay long hours and hard labor. Big companies can make more money this way. What's new?

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