The last thing Ag employers need in the stimulus bill

By Curt Kipp,
Oregon Association of Nurseries
Daily Digger Blog

The hot issue in Washington, D.C. right now is the much-discussed economic stimulus package, which has evolved and changed over the course of negotiations between Senate leaders, Obama administration officials and other involved parties.

One of the provisions that could affect nursery owners would be the Kingston amendment, which is part of the House-approved version of the bill. This amendment would require all stimulus bill beneficiaries to enroll in E-Verify, the currently-voluntary and much-criticized federal pilot program designed to assess the eligibility of prospective employees.

Opponents of the Kingston amendment succeeded in keeping it out of the Senate version of the stimulus bill, but conference committee negotiations are coming up. This is the process where the differences between House and Senate versions of the bill are settled, and a single bill is agreed upon for final House and Senate passage.
Needless to say, Immigration Works USA and nursery industry leaders are hoping the Kingston amendment is NOT included in the final bill. Yesterday, they gained an influential ally. The Wall Street Journal published an editorial that was critical of the approach. It’s all worth reading, but here’s the go-home graf:

Illegal immigration tends to flow and ebb based on the strength of the U.S. economy. Given the recession, it’s likely to decline in the short-run, and Congress might use the lull to enact some substantive policy reforms. Work-site enforcement should be part of a broader immigration debate, not something slipped into a stimulus bill to placate protectionists.

Check back as we follow the progress of this developing story.

UPDATE: 1 p.m.: House and Senate leaders have reached agreement on a final bill, but it’s not yet known whether it includes any E-Verify requirements.

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