Nearly all of Georgia’s immigration-enforcement state law, better known as H.B. 87, goes into effect today in the midst of protests over its provisions.

This week, a federal judge in Georgia granted a preliminary injunction against key provisions of the law that would allow police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects and a measure punishing those who knowingly harbor illegal immigrants. The provisions that mandate E-Verify are not blocked under that injunction.

The Georgia Farm Bureau, in a recent legislative update (.pdf), highlighted the E-Verify provisions contained in H.B. 87:

Every private employer with more than 10 employees must use the federal work authorization program, known as E-Verify. This requirement shall be effective on January 1, 2012 for employers with 500 or more employees; on July 1, 2012 for employers with 100-499 employees; on July 1, 2013 for employers with 11-99 employees. In order to obtain business licenses, employers will be required to sign a sworn affidavit attesting they use the E-Verify program.

The May/June issue of Georgia Farm Bureau News states that the organization continues to question the wisdom of E-Verify despite the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legality of mandating it in the Legal Arizona Workers Act.

The article adds that “requiring small businesses and farmers to navigate yet another layer of federal bureaucracy will only increase costs and reduce efficiency. What America really needs is effective border enforcement and a workable guest worker program for agriculture.”

For its part, the Florida Farm Bureau states that reform of U.S. immigration law, a usable foreign worker program and a reliable employment verification system (.pdf) are all essential for U.S. agriculture.

At the federal level, Congressman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, filed a bill that would mandate E-Verify nationwide.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute — a nonprofit public policy organization — held a conference call on Thursday to discuss the mandatory E-Verify bill. It calls the program a “flawed electronic employment verification system.”

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies with the Cato Institute, said on the call that the true immigration solution requires addressing the underlying causes that exist in current immigration law. Harper added that E-Verify would end up costing millions of dollars, while the program’s database flaws would tag authorized workers. He also said it would increase the value of identity fraud, and there would be lost tax revenue when workers receive cash-only salaries.

In his comments, Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst at the Competetive Enterprise Institute, said that existing workplace regulations already go too far and that E-Verify multiplies regulatory costs for employers and workers.

Bob Barr, the former Republican member of Congress from Georgia, said during the call that mandatory E-verify is an example of Congress imposing a one-size-fits-all solution that does not attack the problem.

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