A bill by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would require businesses to screen for undocumented immigrants using the E-Verify system is facing growing opposition from Smith’s own party. E-Verify has been plagued by false identifications and concerns that it casts an overly-wide net that ensnares American citizens along with the undocumented.
At a markup of the bill yesterday, one Republican, Rep. Dan Lungren (CA) said, “It would devastate agriculture. … If we do not recognize the demonstrated need for foreign workers.” An estimated 80 percent of workers in the agricultural industry are undocumented, and agricultural groups testified in June that a mandatory E-Verify bill could drive out vital employees that cannot easily be replaced.
Additionally, a coalition of almost 30 conservative and Tea Party groups representing millions has launched a national media campaign against the bill. Their letter to the House Judiciary Committee focuses on the negative impact to employers and threat to civil liberties: “This job-killer creates a universal, mandatory electronic employment verification system by EVERY employer in the U.S. for EVERY person seeking employment in the U.S.”