NTF Supports Principles of Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition

February 26, 2013

U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Hears Testimony for Reaching Immigration Reform

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security conducted a hearing today, “From H-2A to a Workable Agricultural Guestworker Program,” where the Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition, of which the National Turkey Federation (NTF) is a member, illustrated the importance of a stable and permanent workforce that can help sustain the rural communities where meat and poultry facilities often operate.  

NTF and its coalition partners strongly support five major themes for immigration reform:  border security; a very simple improvement to the E-verify system as an alternative to a national identity card; clarity in anti-discrimination laws; an occupational visa category that the meat and poultry industry can use that could be tied to local or regional employment; and, options to effectively address the 11 million undocumented workers in the shadows of our economy.

The coalition’s testimony, delivered by National Chicken Council President Mike Brown at the hearing, emphasized these themes, as follows:

E-Verify—To strengthen employment verification, the testimony noted the government does not provide employers with a reliable verification method to prevent identity fraud and confirm whether new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States.  The coalition said in its testimony:  “E-Verify is a step in the right direction but does not work adequately in its current form.  If strengthened, this program will serve as an effective and efficient ‘virtual border.’”

Identity Fraud—As the meat and poultry industry’s most common issue, identity fraud, e.g. a valid Social Security number that does not relate to the person presenting it, the coalition believes employers should be allowed to require an E-Verify Self Check.  Documents such as a driver’s license or social security card are easily falsified—E-Verify Self Check—an online service, enables U.S. employees to check an individual’s employment eligibility in the United States before beginning a new job.

In return for participating in these and other aggressive screening programs, the coalition supports providing a safe harbor for employers that utilize the E-Verify Self Check and follow the automatic referral process. 

Labor Pool—Continued access to the labor pool is a key element of the coalition’s framework for immigration reform.  The government’s existing temporary programs for general labor skilled workers are for seasonal labor only—this does not help manufacturers whose occupational needs are year-round and ongoing. 

In addition to NTF, the following organizations comprise the Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition:

  • American Meat Institute
  • California Poultry Federation
  • Georgia Poultry Federation
  • National Chicken Council
  • North American Meat Association
  • The Poultry Federation (Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma)
  • U.S. Poultry & Egg AssociationVirginia Poultry Federation