California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law last week which makes it illegal for the state, cities and counties to mandate that private employers use E-Verify.
California employers are able to use E-Verify on a voluntary basis or as required by federal contracts.
E-Verify was set up under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
It compares information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there’s a mismatch, E-Verify alerts the employer and the employee is allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem; they must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight federal government work days from the referral date.
The error rate has been one of the main arguments used by proponents of California’s new law. But they have also argued that it is a financial burden on business.
The bill says that the “U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the net societal cost of all federal contractors using the E-Verify program would amount to $10 billion a year, federally” and that California businesses “would face considerable odds in implementing such a program.”
Following local pressure, the Southeastern Californian town of Murrieta adopted E-Verify but Brian Ambrose, a senior analyst in the city manager’s office, told the LA Times:
“We have not received a single phone call… We did not believe there was ever a problem with illegal immigration here in Murrieta.”
“[E-Verify] could have a significant, negative impact on U.S. farm production, threatening the livelihoods of many farmers and ranchers in labor intensive agriculture.”
In Georgia, a study has found that labor shortages heavily exacerbated by that state’s new anti-immigration legislation cost fruit and vegetable farms at least $70 million in crop losses this spring. The University of Georgia study surveyed farmers, who said they had 40 percent fewer workers than they needed this year.
Daniel Altschuler reported for CS Monitor in June that farmers are shifting from fruit and vegetables to grain, because it requires less labor.
Last week the Louisiana Associated General Contractors association launched a lawsuit against that state’s use of E-Verify in public contracts.
Eighteen states now have an E-Verify requirement in such contracts.
California Governor Jerry Brown picture by Steve Rhodes