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Mandatory E-Verify Could Become a Reality for Florida Businesses

In late November of 2017, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission unanimously backed a proposal that will require all Florida businesses to use E-Verify. E-Verify (electronic employment eligibility verification) is a system created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that requires businesses to confirm that every potential and current employee has the legal right to work in the Unites States.

According to an article by the Center for Immigration Studies, “Since its introduction in 1996 as Basic Pilot, E-Verify remains the easiest way for employers to determine if their workers are eligible to work legally in the United States. A 2016 study confirmed what many have known for years: The E-Verify system is remarkably effective at deterring illegal immigration.” While most companies in Florida approve of mandatory E-Verify, certain agriculture businesses have expressed their concerns of having to enforce this program on their workers.

Adam Blalock, who represents the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, stated in a Palm Beach Post article that “the agriculture industry would suffer a short-term labor shortage that would result in lost and unharvested crops,” if E-Verify is made mandatory. The reason for this is that many Florida farmers employ illegal immigrants to help with their crops, especially during harvesting season. Farmers with a smaller business may look to employ undocumented immigrants to avoid the cost of providing employees benefits, minimum wage, etc. For this reason, mandatory E-Verify has been a controversial debate in the state of Florida for some time.

While the proposal for E-Verify was approved by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, it will still have to be approved by 60 percent of Florida voters in this year’s general-election ballot in order to go into effect.

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