Immigration issue heating up

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Just about everyone in the United States agrees something needs to be done to address the issue of illegal immigrant workers. But few agree on just what needs to be done, and politicians in Washington generally seem to lack political will to do very much.

But after spending several months on the back burner, the immigrant issue heated up somewhat this week.  According to News reports, U.S. federal immigration agents issued inspection notices to hundreds of businesses across 17 sectors, including food and agriculture.

Quoted in a Reuters article, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement "The inspections will touch on employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation, with an emphasis on businesses related to critical infrastructure and key resources." 

The announced crackdown comes on the heels of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) this week introducing the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2164), a bill that Smith says “could open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.” According to Smith’s Web site, the legislation improves the E-Verify system and makes it mandatory for all U.S. employers. 

“With unemployment at 9 percent, jobs are scarce” Smith says.  Despite record unemployment, seven million people work in the U.S. illegally.  These jobs should go to legal workers.  E-Verify is a successful program to help ensure that jobs are reserved for citizens and legal workers.  The ‘E’ in E-Verify could just as well stand for ‘easy’ and ‘effective.’  It takes just a few minutes to use and easily confirms 99.5 percent of work-eligible employees.  There is no other legislation that can be enacted that will create more jobs for American workers.”

According to Smith’s office, Americans overwhelmingly support making E-Verify mandatory. The news release cites a recent Rasmussen poll, showing 82 percent of likely voters think businesses should be required to use E-Verify. 

Not all food and agriculture groups favor mandatory use of the E-Verify system, but in an editorial last year, American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle expressed support. “E-Verify is the only electronic data-based system available to ensure that employers hire only those authorized to work in the United States,” notes Boyle. And much like a merchant can swipe a credit card when a purchase is made — and that purchase is either authorized or not — E-Verify allows employers to verify the social security numbers of new employees after they are hired.”

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Chattanooga, TN  |  June, 17, 2011 at 07:45 AM

What do you mean few agree on what needs to be done? Enforcemement, deportation, secured border needs to be done.

Anna Logan    
Texas  |  June, 19, 2011 at 04:33 PM

Yea, Yea. This is wonderful news and is a long time in coming. Why could this not have been done long ago. Maybe our US unemployed workers will have a chance at US jobs now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A.C. Jones    
Illinois  |  June, 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM

During the last part of my career, I worked as a plant supervisor overseeing 100's of people on production lines. We had to hire "illegals" just to stay in operation. Most of the U.S. unemployed workers that could have worked were too damn lazy.

Kentucky  |  June, 21, 2011 at 09:59 AM

Hmmmm.... The history of this country includes a long litany of denying the validity and humanity of newcomers. (Remember who were the subjects of "The Jungle"?) Economics often has been the background noise, but intolerance is easy and easily expressed, and today illegal immigrants are the number one target. It's simple to identify, vilify, and dismiss such people as not "fitting in" and thus legitimately subject to deportation so US workers can work in the jobs they have "taken away". Ah, if only the world WERE so simple. Ever worked in a meat processing plant, even one that is well organized and relatively clean? Ever stooped over all day picking lettuce and other ground produce for weeks on end? Been in the trees to pick the peaches, apples, etc. for a season? Will most unemployed Americans do those jobs for the pay illegals receive? I strongly doubt it. And let's face it, employers don't ask too many questions because WE want our produce and meat today, easily accessible, and cheap. E-Verify may or may not be a solution to honest employers, but it won't answer the larger questions surrounding cheap labor to produce cheap food. It is COMPLICATED, not simple as the commentators seem to think. Let's take a chance and think these things through more deeply, people!

Nevada  |  June, 22, 2011 at 07:58 PM

The solution to the immigration issue is totally over simplified. It would be impossible...expensive and very time just round up all the illegals and deport them. Totally not feasible. Immigrant labor is the reason we have cheap food in America, and who among us would call a trip to the grocery store cheap? If immigrant labor in America is removed...the following will occur. American ag will move out of America to where the work is cheap. Consumers will not have the assurance that our food has been produced up to USDA standards. Most of us have no idea what goes into or onto producing food outside of America. As a result communities are going to struggle because this will be a huge hit for ag communities. In a nutshell, food prices in America go up, and jobs go elsewhere. What a solution! The day that America depends on foreign soil to raise our food will be a sad, sad day and our decent into a demise. Wake up people! American ag needs immigrant labor. Most Americans are not willing to put up with the low pay and working conditions (i.e. outside elements and the hard work itself) to take the work done by immigrants. It has been tried time and time again to hire only "legals"...even during the recession. Ag jobs remained open. The illegals that are contributing members to local communities...and they do contribute via growing our food, and shopping, groceries, housing etc.... should have an avenue with which to become legal. First hand experience talking here....becoming a legal worker at this point in time (even for one who speaks, reads, and writes English) is next to impossible even when married to a US citizen. Sorry folks your Everify system is not the answer. Look at something called the Red Card solution - a proposal by the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation. There is a solution but Everify is not it.


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