Monday is a big day for small employers in two of our states. North Carolina and Georgia both have the final phases of their immigration control laws kicking into effect. Both will require the use of E-Verify for the smallest groups of employers.
In Georgia, employers with 10 or more employees on January 1, should begin using E- Continue reading
>The Georgia General Assembly has been working on anti-illegal immigration legislation this session. Here is the current situation. The House and Senate have each passed their own versions of Immigration bills. The part that will likely have the most impact on ginning is the mandatory use of the federal E-Verify program. This program has been around a long time and, while not perfect, seems to be the best method for employment screening for eligibility to work.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil committee, just today, took up the Senate version of the bill and substituted its original House language in its place. This means we are now working with a Senate Bill and a House Bill with nearly exactly the same language. In GA each bill must stand on its own where in Congress they could conference right now. This means that one of the bills must pass the other house. Whichever bill passes first, the originating house has the option to concur which is likely if there are only minor changes or they could require a conference committee. All indication is that we are headed for a conference committee on this bill.
South Carolina passed a mandatory E-Verify bill a few years ago but unlike the GA bill, SC allows for businesses to hire employees from a limited list of states in lieu of using the E-Verify system.
The bill in Georgia would require all businesses with 5 or more employees to participate in E-Verify beginning December 31, 2012. This effectively gives two seasons before we would need to begin participating in E-Verify.
There are several other sections to the bill but the E-Verify is the one that is generating the most interest.
More as the bills move.
>The Georgia Legislature is currently debating sweeping changes to their employment and immigration laws. Those changes could dramatically affect the way employers hire workers in the state.
Georgia state government, like many other state governments, is under tremendous revenue pressure. The belief is that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Georgia workers as well as adding to the tax burden of those who are working. Both the House and Senate in Georgia have bills that would require employers to use the federal eVerify program. The EVerify program is an electronic means of checking the employment status for potential employees. This is expected to catch those workers whose names and numbers do not match or who may be in the country legally (student visa, tourist visa etc.) and not be eligible to work.
Proponents of these bills say that the thousands of illegals in Georgia are taking jobs away from people who are willing to work but can’t find employment. They also say the low wage workers are putting downward pressure on pay for unskilled labor. Opponents say that the jobs most migrant workers are doing are those that native Georgians are not willing to do at any price.
Agriculture is caught right in the middle of this debate. The vast majority of agricultural employers attempt to hire documented workers but the sheer number of workers needed for a relatively short period of time makes hiring local workers almost impossible. They rely on migrant workers to fill that gap. Those migrants produce documents that the employer MUST take on face value for fear of discrimination complaints.
The only alternative to open hiring is the use of the federal H2A program. That program allows unskilled agricultural workers to come into the country for temporary work. Employers must request these workers and pay all the fees associated with getting them to the farm or gin as well as paying an inflated wage rate. This is a very expensive and cumbersome program that also forces employers to hire US workers first. In the experience of most, the local workers typically don’t last due to the long hours, drug testing and other reasons. The high turnover rate and expense associated with the program cause most potential employers to shy away from the program.
Many ag groups are pushing to eliminate the EVerify mandate from the bills in Atlanta. Many states are looking to see what Georgia does as one of the largest employers in the Southeast. Only time will tell. Look at the Southeastern Ginners Blog for updates. southeasternginners.blogspot.com