Rep. Lamar Smith announced last week he will introduce legislation this week to make the E-Verify program mandatory.
E-Verify is an online, legal-employment status verification system created by the Department of Homeland Security. A bill mandating national use, without a solution for the estimated 7 million undocumented workers currently employed in the United States, would significantly challenge not just the greenhouse industry, but the slow recovery of America’s economy. Agricultural and seasonal employers would be hit hardest.
The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) has put into place a grassroots program involving fly-ins, lobbying events held in Washington, D.C. ANLA is also organizing fly-outs in which the association issues briefings held around the country to prepare industry leaders to make local visits to their Congressional representatives.
"There is acknowledgement that the labor-intensive agriculture community would be uniquely affected by this legislation," says Craig Reggelbrugge, ANLA’s vice president for government relations who spoke with Smith’s legal counsel regarding the legislation. "While several considerations have been alluded to, none offers the guarantee of a legal and reliably available workforce that our industry, and American agriculture, need to remain in business.”
Reggelbrugge stresses the importance of industry leaders delivering a strong message to their Congressional representatives that mandatory use of E-Verify alone will directly impact both their business’ contribution to the local economy and the many American workers they directly and indirectly employ.
“Expansion of E-Verify must be done concurrently with broader reforms to America’s broken immigration system,” Reggelbrugge says.