Oregon Businesses Protest E-Verify Legislation

A group of Oregon businesses have come together to protest a leading House proposal that would require all employers to check workers’ citizenship status through the federal E-Verify database, according to The Oregonian.

The Coalition for a Working Oregon, an organization of 22 state business groups, is fighting the legislation, saying that E-Verify is riddled with errors and would not improve the state’s economy. Jeff Stone, of the leaders of the group and the director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, told the newspaper the bill is a “recipe for disaster,” especially for the state’s agricultural sector.

Stone said it will be extremely difficult for Oregon farmers to fill jobs that are primarily done by undocumented workers if they are legally obligated to use E-Verify, adding that about 70 percent of the state’s nursery workers are illegal immigrants.

“Unfortunately, the Intel worker who finds himself unemployed will not go dig trees,” he said, explaining that many Oregon residents are unlikely to accept those positions.

As of now, the media outlet reports that 250,000 businesses in Oregon use E-Verify on a voluntary basis. That figure would rise to 6 million if the practice became mandatory.

Although President Barack Obama recently said E-Verify is an important enforcement tool in the nation’s immigration reform debate, he admitted the system has some problems in a press conference last month. Obama said the database needs to be updated so that innocent people are not detained, deported or denied a job opportunity.