June 19, 2013 Leave a comment
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Senate agreed to start debate on S. 744, the immigration reform bill—also known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
NFIB sent a letter to Senate leaders, members of the bipartisan group (known as the gang of eight) who drafted the bill and all Senate offices that emphasized concerns that some provisions in the bill would weigh down small businesses with mandates and regulations that favor Big Business and Big Labor. A brief summary of our key points from the letter is below.
Small-Business Concerns with Senate Immigration Bill:
- Creates “The Bureau” – a New, Independent Agency Lacking Oversight – The Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research (“The Bureau”) will be a new independent agency that is self-funded through fees collected from employers participating in the new W visa program.
- New Department of Homeland Security Authority is Duplicative – DHS should not be given new authority to establish enhanced penalties for violations of wage, hour, and workplace health and safety. The Department of Labor currently holds this authority, so DHS enforcement would be unnecessary and duplicative.
- Construction Industry Discriminated Against – The bill specifically caps W visas for the construction industry at 15,000 per year.
- Penalties Excessively Punitive for Small Business – Some of the penalties associated with e-verify (which is a Web-based system that compares employee information from Employment Eligibility Verification Forms (I-9) against federal government databases in order to verify workers’ employment eligibility) could be especially egregious for small businesses.The civil penalty section of e-verify legislation does not take into account the size of small business. While these penalties may serve as a deterrent to large corporations, they could shutter the doors of a small business.
- Safe Harbor Protections are Critical – The e-verify system will not be error-free. There should be a strong faith/safe harbor provision that protects businesses that are attempting to comply with the law.
- Financing of Mandatory Training Not Defined – Under S.744, employers must undergo mandatory e-verify training, but the bill does not specify how this will be paid for. Small businesses do not have the resources to finance yet another undefined mandate by the federal government
- Clarification Needed for Independent Contractors – The bill does not clarify that employers will not use e-verify for independent contractors. NFIB supports the inclusion of language to ensure that employers and contractors are not liable for hiring or the continuation of employment of an unauthorized alien by a subcontractor.
The bill is expected to be considered on the Senate floor for the next three weeks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to complete work on the bill by the July 4th recess.
Some amendments will be offered over the course of the next few weeks; some of these amendments could possibly pertain to and address our concerns. Our policy team will closely monitor the progress of these amendments and advocate strongly for those that address our concerns with the proposed legislation. We will keep you updated as this bill continues to progress through the Senate, and we urge you to contact your Senators as issues arise that could address the small-business concerns with this bill.
Stay tuned to NFIB.com/immigrationbill for updates and additional information.
Sincerely,Lisa Goeas NFIB Vice President, Political & Grassroots