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"Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, succeeded in getting an E-Verify amendment attached to appropriations bills last week as Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, introduced a bill requiring the use of that employee eligibility system and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced plans to introduce an agricultural guestworker bill. Meanwhile, the United Fresh Produce Association said a solution to agricultural immigration problems is necessary before E-Verify becomes mandatory. E-Verify is an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. The House adopted by voice vote an amendment to add King’s amendment to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds by federal agencies for any new hires who have not been subjected to an E-Verify review. The King amendment was attached to seven different appropriations bills: Agriculture, Interior, Commerce/Justice/Science, Labor/Health and Human Services, Financial Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation/Housing Urban Development. “Current law requires the federal government to use E-Verify to enhance enforcement of federal immigration law in all hirings,” said King...Meanwhile, Smith introduced the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711), which requires all U.S. employers to use E-Verify rather than relying on the paper-based I-9 system...Reacting to Smith’s bill, Robert Guenther, the senior vice president of the United Fresh Produce Association said, “United Fresh encourages Congress to ensure that a comprehensive solution is achieved for agriculture prior to mandatory E-Verify legislation is mandated on the fresh produce industry.” “This would include transitioning falsely documented workers to a legal status under appropriate conditions and create a workable new guest worker program that addresses the needs of labor intensive agriculture without unreasonable limitations on visas,” Guenther said...Goodlatte praised Smith’s bill, but said, “I soon plan to introduce the Agricultural Guestworker Act — or the AG Act — to create a workable agricultural guestworker program that works better for both American farmers and consumers.” Goodlatte added, “The AG Act replaces the H-2A program with a more efficient and flexible guestworker program — known as H-2C — that is designed to meet the needs of the diverse agriculture industry. The H-2C program will be administered by the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an agency that clearly understands the unique needs of America’s farm and ranch operations and the importance of getting perishable agricultural commodities to market in an efficient manner.”"

Posted September 11th, 2017