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National Restaurant Association - Survey indicates more support for E-Verify mandate

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Survey indicates more support for E-Verify mandate

A new survey indicates there is growing support among business operators regarding the E-Verify mandate.

The survey, which was conducted in partnership with ImmigrationWorks USA, examined the views of nearly 800 restaurateurs, foodservice operators and supply chain professionals, who weighed in on whether or not and why they would use the e-verify program to check the immigration status of new hires.

“We support a nationwide E-Verify system, but it must be done right, which is why the feedback we’re getting is so important to share with lawmakers during the decision making process,” said Angelo Amador, vice president of labor and workforce for the National Restaurant Association.

According to the survey, 80 percent of restaurant operators who use E-Verify would recommend it to a colleague and about 66 percent said they would use it voluntarily. Additionally, 79 percent said the program was 100-percent accurate. Overall, the survey found that 23 percent of responding restaurant operators would use the program to check the documentation of newly hired immigrant employees. Furthermore, 27 percent said they would use it because it is mandated in the states where they do business and 2 percent said they use it because they do business with the federal government.

“E-Verify comes as a relief to a lot of employers,” said Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA. “That is why we’re seeing the remarkable sea change this survey reflects. By using it, operators can actually know who they’re hiring. It’s a way to avoid liability, to wade through a sea of false documentation and know that you’ve checked it out to the extent that you can.”

The survey’s results, she added, “underscore … that most people want to be on the right side of the law.”

The survey also found that 62 percent of respondents said they would not use E-Verify, but Amador indicated that most of those were small operators who said they couldn’t see how they could incorporate it into their present hiring process.

“The findings reflect what we’ve been hearing for a while, mainly that most corporate-owned chains will be using E-Verify,” Amador said. “Independents disproportionately said they would not use E-Verify because they either did not have an HR department to support it or because of the technical challenges involved. This is why we are calling for changes to the current E-Verify system as part of a broad, national mandate that would simplify the current two-step process that consists of the I-9 you must do and E-Verify and the need for Internet access that is required.”

Amador added that, “the NRA has been involved in the immigration reform debate for more than two decades and that a national employment verification system would provide employers with certainty in regard to their legal obligations, while preempting a patchwork of state and local laws, is a critical piece of immigration reform and is included in the Senate’s recent bipartisan Gang of Eight proposal.”

The survey’s release comes just weeks after both the Senate and the House of Representatives both introduced immigration reform legislation.

Amador cited Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), for his work in drafting the Legal Workforce Act.

“I want to commend Lamar Smith,” he said. “He has taken leadership on drafting a bill during the last three years, the Legal Workforce Act, that was introduced in the House just last week. He addressed most of the industry’s concerns, like creating a paper or telephonic option for small independent restaurateurs who might not have a big operation or internet access or a computer. I think that is going to be very helpful.”

Amador also noted that the more comprehensive bill introduced earlier this month by the Senate’s Gang of Eight takes a different approach, but also includes language from the Legal Workforce Act.

“We’re supporting that and want to see how it moves forward,” he said.

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