I was on a conference call earlier this afternoon with Craig Regelbrugge of SAFE (Save America’s Food and Economy) and California Representative Dan Lungren. The issue of the call is protecting America’s agricultural labor force in light of E-Verify and specifically HR-2164.
Current bill – H.R.2164 – “The Legal Workforce Act”
Summary, status and full text of legislation currently under consideration in Congress which mandates use of E-Verify by all employers in the United States. The bill was introduced on June 14, 2011 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
What is E-Verify?
A government primer on the Internet-based employee eligibility system managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Overview of E-Verify and its history, including references to federal and state government application.
Past proposals, AgJOBS –
Senate version of AgJOBS compromise legislation introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Past proposals, AgJOBS – H.R. 2412
House version of AgJOBS compromise legislation introduced by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA).
Commentary by Amherst College Copeland Fellow and migrant farm worker expert Daniel Altshuler examines the impact E-Verify, as it currently stands, is having on America’s farms.
Research & Analysis – “Why Domestic Agriculture Needs New, Workable Farm Labor Alternatives Now”
Key messages from the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) 2010 Survey of H-2A Employers.
Research – The Census of Agriculture
Every five years, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service releases a detailed census on the state of American agriculture.
Research – USDA Economic Research Service
The economic and policy analysis division of the USDA. Access to information and data on the U.S. agricultural industry.
And, Rep. Dan Lungren discussed his new legislation to work as a companion bill to HR-2164. A link to its summary is here.
So, why SAFE and why is Big AG (like the Western Growers Association) afraid of E-Verify?
Well, obviously, a large majority (maybe as much of 80%) of their agricultural labor is comprised of migrant illegal immigrants (probably most from Mexico). With a successful E-Verify program, they would lose all of their field workers, crops would not be harvested, cattle raised, milk gathered and their businesses would fail.
In the meantime, Americans would need to eat and would simply import fruit, vegetables and meat from other countries, like South American and China. America’s food supply would be outsourced as America’s farmlands lay fallow.
So, what does SAFE propose?
A guest worker program on the scale of a million plus workers a year. But, a program under the control of the United States Department of Agriculture. This is the essence of Rep Lungren’s bill.
We have a dilemma here.
America needs E-Verify to remove the “jobs magnet” for illegal immigration. However, America needs labor to harvest its food supply.
This proposal appears to be a suitable, temporary compromise. American agriculture needs to find better and more efficient methods to develop and harvest their crops in a less labor intense method.
America’s farmers and dairymen should NO LONGER be dependent upon foreign workers to conduct business. Our national security demands it.
Stay tuned, as I will have more later…..