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California Farmers Concerned About E-Verify

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E-Verify“Farmers are growing increasingly concerned about a federal employment verification program that could have vast implications for local agriculture, Santa Cruz County’s top industry.

Some Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have called for expanding a Department of Homeland Security program known as e-Verify, which allows employers to immediately check, electronically, a worker’s employment status against federal immigration databases. But many speculate that the program – if implemented without Congress taking up the politically sensitive task of providing a path to citizenship for immigrant workers – would effectively wipe out the county’s, the state’s and the nation’s agricultural work force.

“To say that we’re going to use e-Verify without giving you a legal means to citizenship, the message there is, ‘We want (consumers) to buy foreign food,'” said Thomas Nassif, president and chief executive officer of Irvine-based Western Growers, adding that U.S. agriculture “couldn’t survive.”

United Farm Workers spokeswoman Maria Machuca shares a similar assessment. “If you deport all those farm workers, it’s basically the collapse of the agricultural industry,” she said.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Apr. 26, 2011.

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