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National Restaurant Association - State action slows on immigration reform

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State action slows on immigration reform

State action on immigration dropped significantly in 2012, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State lawmakers passed just over 200 immigration-related bills and resolutions in the first half of this year, about 20 percent fewer than in the same period last year, the NCSL reports. The NCSL is a bipartisan organization that helps state policymakers exchange ideas on pressing issues. The National Restaurant Association serves on the NCSL's immigration task force.

NCSL reports that six states -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire and West Virginia -- this year adopted new or additional requirements for employers to use the federal E-Verify system. Unlike in past years, however, when states enacted broad E-Verify mandates covering tens of thousands of private businesses, most of this year's E-Verify changes are more limited or apply largely to companies doing business with their state governments.

Nineteen states now require some or all employers to use the online E-Verify system to check employees' eligibility to work in the United States, the NCSL says. 

As one of the leading national business organizations fighting for comprehensive immigration reform at the national level, the NRA believes a patchwork of state-level E-Verify mandates could make compliance increasingly difficult for restaurant employers. If Congress is unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the NRA believes employers need a uniform federal E-Verify system that's efficient, accurate and easy to use -- and that provides employers with legal protections when they act in good faith based on information provided by the system.

NCSL reports that state lawmakers cited concern about litigation challenging states' authority to enforce immigration laws as one of the reasons for the drop-off in immigration-related bills this year. Immigration action also took a back seat to more immediate issues, such as budget cutbacks and redistricting, many state officials told NCSL.


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