The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, began its formal consideration of H.R. 2164, the Legal Workforce Act, on Capitol Hill this morning. The legislation would require employers to submit names and Social Security numbers of new employees through the federal E-Verify database.

The United Fresh Produce Association has advocated over the past year for a comprehensive approach to E-Verify legislation that takes into account the unique needs of the agricultural sector and incorporates provisions for a workable, efficient worker program. Although both Chairman Smith and Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., have offered legislation that would create a new agriculture guest worker program, neither proposal is being considered as part of the legislation discussed today. United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther offers the following statement on H.R. 2164, the Legal Workforce Act:

“With today’s action, the House Judiciary Committee begins a process to consider a bill that is of concern to the producers of fresh fruits and vegetables. While United Fresh supports a federal solution to enforcement of our country’s immigration laws, the Legal Workforce Act continues to disregard the potential impact this business mandate will have on our members and could stifle a vibrant and competitive fresh produce industry in this country. We continue to insist that, as Congress moves forward with this legislation, it must incorporate a workable and efficient agricultural guest worker program. In addition, any guest worker program must consider the need for workers who are currently employed in agriculture in order to sustain and enhance the economic growth of the fresh produce industry.”