Recent proposed legislation has raised concerns among farmers due to its proposed changes to the way worker statuses are verified. Current federal laws that apply in North Carolina and elsewhere require employers to obtain certain documents when hiring new employees, but do not require them to verify that the documents are valid. Some say that if the new act is adopted, American farms will suffer because of the immigrant statuses of some workers.
When a new employee is hired, federal law requires an employer to make copies of I-9-approved documents and file those copies, along with a signed I-9, in each employee's file. The current laws, however, do not hold an employer accountable for verifying the information that is obtained. The proposed changes would make employers liable for false documentation provided by immigrant workers.
One farmer stated that his 34 employees have papers on file, but most likely do not have valid immigrant statuses. He said that if the newly proposed act is adopted, and he is required to review each employee's file for the purpose of verifying the information, it could have a disastrous effect on farm production because of the potential information that such a review might reveal. Other farm groups have added their voices to the issue, stating that the government should not hold employers liable for misinformation submitted by employees. A former secretary of agriculture from South Dakota said that farmers need a new program that would simplify the current process and alleviate the need for employees to return to their homelands every five years to update their papers.
Whether employers will soon be required to use an online eVerify system to check employee-provided information against records from the Social Security Administration and Homeland Security is yet undecided. If the new legislation is passed, many believe that food production in North Carolina and other states will suffer. Any immigrant who plans to seek employment or who is currently employed but has questions or concerns about his or her status may benefit from discussing his or her concerns with an attorney who has advised others in immigration and naturalization law cases.
Source: argusleader.com, "South Dakota dairy operators want immigration reform", Janelle Atyeo, April 12, 2015