Legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) known as the Legal Workforce Act of 2017, H.R. 3711, would require every employer in the U.S. to use E-Verify to determine whether employees are authorized to work, the National Law Review reported. The Legal Workforce Act was introduced to help reduce the number of undocumented workers, as it would create a database of information about every employee in the country. The National Law Review reported that the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill on a party-line vote in the end of October.
Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of government affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals, said the E-Verify requirements have been something immigration reform proponents have been pushing for a while. NALP hopes Congress will address H-2B prior to considering the Legal Workforce Act.
"We've already had extreme difficulties for a lot of landscape companies to adequately hire a dependable workforce," Mendelsohn said. "It's one thing if they were to require E-Verify for all new employees, but if they start doing audits of existing workforces, the Department of Labor estimates that something like a quarter of landscape labor is undocumented workers. It could have negative ramifications on businesses if they start conducting audits under E-Verify. Our strong preference (at NALP) is for them to fix H-2B before introducing anything else."
E-Verify is already used in some states, he added. Additionally, the Legal Workforce Act shouldn’t affect H-2B workers legally authorized to work in the U.S.
“We feel that the H-2B issue has to be resolved in the long-term, not just the short-term,” Mendelsohn said. “Also, we strongly believe that Congress must either fix H-2B, or come up with a legal pathway to employment for those undocumented in the workforce.”
NALP plans to continue to work on Capitol Hill to ensure the industry will have an adequate number of workers in place for 2018.
Read more about the Legal Workforce Act from the National Law Review here.