Goodlatte Offers E-Verify Mandate, Farm Worker Fix for Immigration Bill

With the House set to vote Wednesday on a GOP immigration reform package, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has offered a proposal to mandate that all new employees in the United States are eligible to work in this country using the E-Verify system.

Goodlatte’s proposal would also create a new visa program for foreign workers in the farming and food-processing industries. American companies would be allowed to hire 450,000 foreign workers for three years under the plan, provided no U.S. workers could be found who would do those jobs.

Late Monday night, the Virginian Republican filed a 116-page amendment with the Rules Committee to the underlying “compromise” immigration bill. That legislation is slated to be voted on by the full House on Wednesday.

The compromise immigration bill was the product of weeks of discussions among GOP moderates, conservatives and party leaders. It was previously scheduled for a vote last Friday.

But following complaints from the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made the surprising decision Thursday night to pull the bill. More discussions took place over the weekend among GOP moderates and conservatives.

Goodlatte’s amendment is designed to shore up conservative support for the bill, although it is still an uphill fight to passage. Goodlatte and GOP leaders are trying to round up 218 Republican votes for the measure, knowing Democrats will never support it.

E-Verify is an online system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. Some states require employers to use the E-Verify system, but there is no national mandate to do so.

Under Goodlatte’s new proposal, known as the “Legal Workforce Act,” large companies — those with 10,000 or more employees — would have six months to phase in E-Verify compliance. Companies with 500 to 10,000 employees would have one year to do so, while firms with 20 to 500 employees would have 18 months. And any company with two to 20 employees would have two years, as would agricultural labor or service employers.

By John Bresnahan for POLITICO
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