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Potential for Mandated E-Verify for All Employers

In July, a new bipartisan bill, the AG and Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 6417), was introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. The bill is intended to address two main topics: illegal immigration and the need for a workable agricultural guest-worker program.

If passed, this bill would replace the current H-2A agricultural guest worker program with a new H-2C program, available to both seasonal and year-round agricultural employers. The new program would potentially would allow many foreign workers to remain in the U.S. for up to three years. The intention, according to Chairman Goodlatte, is to build a secure legal workforce in the agriculture industry.

The AG and Legal Workforce Act would also establish provisions requiring all U.S. employers to use the federal E-Verify® program to verify the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S. There would be a gradual phase-in process for employers over a two-year period, starting with the largest employers first.

Although the bill has gained support from some agriculture groups, including the American Farm Bureau, other groups have expressed strong opposition towards the bill. Those in opposition believe the program will constrict rather than expand the supply of immigrant workers in agriculture because it lacks provisions that would protect existing farm workers or properly ensure a sufficient flow of future guest workers. Additionally, although E-Verify is technically free, employers would still face significant costs, especially time costs for smaller employers who do not employ HR staff.

As of this blog’s publication date, the bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote, but lobbyists are pushing for a vote in September.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.