Florida Governor Rick Scott Still Supports E-Verify, Now as National Policy

Jun 22, 2012

The following article was published in the Sunshine State News on June 22, 2012:

Scott Still Supports E-Verify, Now as a National Policy

By Jim Turner


Gov. Rick Scott says his position on E-Verify hasn’t changed.

He’s just not pursuing the business regulation that has been opposed by business and agricultural interests because he said he doesn’t want to put Florida companies at a competitive disadvantage with rival firms in other states and countries.

Scott went on the airwaves in Jacksonville on Thursday to defend his call for a federal immigration policy that includes the requirement that businesses nationwide use the federal visa verifying system to check the legal status of new employees.

Scott touted the Federal Electronic Verification System (E-Verify) during his heated primary fight with former Attorney General Bill McCollum in 2010, and within hours of his inauguration in January 2011 issued an executive order to require state agencies to use the E-Verify system.

The E-Verify system is a federal database that compares information from a person’s employment paperwork to Homeland Security and Social Security records.  

However on Wednesday, after addressing the Rotary Club of Tallahassee at the Leon County Civic Center, Scott said he wasn’t prepared to push the system on private businesses in Florida. Instead, he outlined changes he said are needed in the federal immigration program.

“One, the federal government needs to secure the borders. Two, have an immigration policy that everybody understands,” Scott said. “Three, we need to make sure we have a work visa program that does not put Florida businesses at a disadvantage.”

Scott, while appearing on WOKV 690 AM in Jacksonville on Thursday, argued that this is not a new position.

“What we can’t do is have any immigration policies that put Florida or U.S. businesses at a disadvantage to another county or another state,” Scott said.
Attempts by legislators to make the system a requirement for private businesses have failed in both the 2011 and 2012 sessions.

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement have blamed Scott for the failure of legislatures to enact such a rule, paying for a billboard along Interstate-75 near Georgia sarcastically thanking Scott and “welcoming” illegal aliens to Florida.

E-Verify proponents claim the free, federal computer-based program had a 98 percent rate of accuracy.

Civil rights activists have complained of racial profiling. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has argued that E-Verify places burdens on businesses, especially small businesses without human resources and legal departments.

Last week, Scott told members of the Florida Citrus Mutual while meeting in Bonita Springs that it would be “foolish” to push for just Florida to require E-Verify and that he wouldn’t support efforts to require use of the system in the upcoming legislative year, according to the Lakeland Ledger.

In a column in March on Florida Voices, Janet Renner, chair of the Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, argued that E-Verify remains “the answer to our illegal immigration problem.”

“E-Verify is a free federal program that’s easy to use, highly accurate (up to 99.5 percent), with super-fast confirmations,” Renner wrote.

“And contrary to myths, an E-Verify nonconfirmation doesn’t mean instant deportation or loss of employment; it allows people to contact the Social Security Administration or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to correct any mistakes in their records. The beauty of E-Verify is that illegal aliens fear detection so they need not apply.”

Jim Spratt, Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association director of government affairs, counters in Florida Voices that as a result of E-Verify, Florida would have to establish a “guest worker” program because domestic workers don’t apply for the harvesting jobs, even in times of high unemployment.

“Here is the bottom line: Agricultural employers stand to lose as much as 75 percent of their current work force if mandatory E-Verify laws are enacted without simultaneously enacting a guest-worker program,” Spratt wrote.

“Crippling Florida’s agricultural industry should scare every Floridian, as Florida provides the lion’s share of our nation’s winter vegetables, Florida produces nearly 75 percent of all the indoor tropical foliage and houseplants sold within the U.S., and Florida is known the world over for its citrus production, both juice and fresh fruit. Losing domestic production of our food may prove to be one of the biggest national security and food safety threats in the nation’s history.”

View the original article here:  http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/rick-scott-still-supports-e-verify-now-national-policy