Scott to Growers: E-Verify For Them Would Be 'Foolish'

By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida
By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida


David Royse, The News Service of Florida

Gov. Rick Scott, who said while campaigning for governor that he would require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check immigration status, now acknowledges that requiring the agriculture industry to use it would put growers at a disadvantage.

Scott said this week while addressing a gathering of the state's largest citrus growers group, Florida Citrus Mutual, that he wouldn't support any effort to require use of the system in the upcoming legislative year. Lawmakers have considered requiring its use, but failed to pass legislation the last two years.

Scott, who was elected in 2010, campaigned on a strong anti-illegal immigration platform that included this promise on his campaign web site: "Rick will require all Florida employers to use the free E-Verify system to ensure that their workers are legal."

But that position put him between two typically-strong GOP constituencies: the tea party voters often credited with getting him elected, who generally support most efforts to reduce use of foreign workers, and the business community, which has said E-Verify is problematic, especially when employers in some competing states aren't required to use it.

Scott acknowledged this week that on this issue, he's come to agree with the agriculture industry.

"It would be foolish to put Florida companies at a disadvantage," Scott told those at the Citrus Mutual meeting in Bonita Springs on Wednesday, according to a story in The Ledger of Lakeland.

Scott also told the growers group that he knows of no serious effort to revive legislation containing an E-Verify requirement, and wouldn't support it, reiterating that it is the federal government's responsibility to do something about the immigration problem.

Scott signed an executive order shortly after taking office requiring that new hires in state agencies and those who contract with them be checked by E-Verify. That requirement remains in place.

But after being unable to persuade the Republican Legislature to pass the requirement in his first legislative session, and running into push back from big business, Scott's thinking has become more practical and nuanced. Even as lawmakers were considering the requirement in 2011, Scott said checking new state workers' immigration status might be far enough.

"One of my executive orders was that all state agencies would use E-Verify. And right now I’m satisfied with that," the governor said back in January, 2011, although at the time a spokeswoman said "right now" was the key part of the phrase and warned that the governor could push for broader application of the requirement later.

But tea party voters and others who want stronger immigration controls have already made their dissatisfaction with Scott on the issue known, very publicly.

A group called Floridians for Immigration Enforcement put up a billboard earlier this year on Interstate 75 "welcoming" illegal immigrants to the state and thanking Scott.

"This is a wake-up call for Gov. Scott, who promised Floridians he would work to get mandatory E-Verify in the state to protect our legal workers," Jack Oliver, the group's legislative director, said at the time.

The E-Verify system uses a federal Homeland Security database and Social Security records to check whether people are legally allowed to work in the United States. More than a dozen other states, including neighboring Alabama and Georgia, have some sort of requirement for at least some employers to use the E-Verify system. Nearly 20,000 employers in Florida, including local governments and many private employers, use the system even though not required to.

Citrus Mutual, the group the governor was addressing, and other agriculture groups opposed Florida legislation in 2011 that would have required it, and were widely credited with helping kill it. A similar measure was filed this year but went nowhere.

In a recent editorial published by Florida Voices, Jim Spratt of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, said bills passed in Alabama and Georgia had cost growers heavily there because of a resulting labor shortage.

"Agricultural employers stand to lose as much as 75 percent of their current workforce 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."

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  • by TeaVerify on Jun 16, 2012 at 08:53 AM
    It all sounded good when Scott was on the campaign trail sipping tea with his voters...too bad that reality doesn't drink tea.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 16, 2012 at 07:14 AM
    So we can't trust an illegal to work in an office but it is ok to allow them access to our food supply?!? What's to stop some extremist who isn't being checked out before being hired from injecting hundreds of oranges or other foods with poison while he picking them?
  • by jes on Jun 16, 2012 at 03:56 AM
    If you don't want employers using e-verify then don't ever complain about illegal aliens.
    • reply
      by j on Jun 16, 2012 at 08:07 AM in reply to jes
      hahahahahahahahahahahA so true.
  • by Paul Location: Quincy on Jun 15, 2012 at 03:33 PM
    As a produce farmer in Florida I had my payroll department check on average hourly rates on pickets and found they averaged between 18 and 24 dollars an hour no one is never paid less than Florida mim wage in that crew of 160 pickets one non Hispanic works so where is that flood of floridians to work
    • reply
      by J on Jun 16, 2012 at 08:06 AM in reply to Paul
  • by Mike Location: Tallahassee on Jun 15, 2012 at 03:30 PM
    So this is Scott's "Dream Act" How Nice !!
  • by Curtise Location: Tallahassee on Jun 15, 2012 at 02:09 PM
    E-verify is foolish for everyone. IMO the federal government has no business in anyone's hiring decisions.
    • reply
      by jes on Jun 16, 2012 at 06:27 AM in reply to Curtise
      So you are OK with illegal immigrants working here as long as the price of tomatos don't go up 10 cents?
      • reply
        by Curtise on Jun 17, 2012 at 02:55 AM in reply to jes
        Its not just the names of "illegal immigrants" that are submitted under E-verify; its everyone who applies for a job. So, yes, if those are the choices, I believe a few "illegal immigrants" harvesting produce is preferable to giving the federal government information about where EVERY worker in the United States wants to be employed. Besides, IMO if we need a few illegal immigrants to harvest our produce, it is better to do that than let it rot in the fields. I do not know about you but I believe we should not have an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-deciding central government.
  • by Larry on Jun 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
    Another example of the extreme promises that the current Republicans have to say to get past their primaries. This is not your father's GOP. Btw, I thought that Republicans were against regulation? He proposed this major regulatory burden. Mr. Scott, next time think then propose policies. You too Bishop Romney.
  • by Bread Pud'n Location: Hog Heaven on Jun 15, 2012 at 01:04 PM
    Did anybody E-Verify Rick Scott's criminal background?
  • by 62nitro Location: Tallahassee on Jun 15, 2012 at 12:13 PM
    Ok you guys, make up your minds! Either RS is a lying, racist, immigrant hater, or he is a two faced lying, flip-flopper because he realized he was wrong and he doesn’t want to hurt farmers any more than they have been already with the policies coming out of Washington DC. Which is it? Of course there is a third option. You could be wrong on both. Hmmmmm
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 15, 2012 at 01:57 PM in reply to 62nitro
      I respect him for wanting to protect the already hurting farmers, but even if (and that's a big if) Scott's intentions are good, hiring illegal immigrants is still breaking the law...period! You can't claim that you're for enforcing the law and the constitution and then turn around and make an exception for a certain group just because they have big money. This is what is wrong with government...regardless of party affiliation.
      • reply
        by Redd Foxx on Jun 15, 2012 at 08:20 PM in reply to
        You will find it difficult getting through to that one. Everything he knows he learned over his daddy's knee.
      • reply
        by J on Jun 16, 2012 at 08:01 AM in reply to
        NOT ALL of the farmers who use this workers are BIG. Look at our local farmer. CORN, tomatoes, and all kinds of veg farmers localy NEED THESE PICKERS. DO you want to use your taxes to keep these people from losing their farms. AND THINK HOW MUCH YOUR GRO BILL GOES UPPP.............
      • reply
        by 62nitro on Jun 16, 2012 at 08:17 AM in reply to
        I believe RS is still against illegal immigration as he was during his campaign, but he has seen what e-verify has done to Alabama & Georgia farmers. It is hurting the growers because this administration in Washington won’t do anything to stop the illegals. In order for e-verify to work, it must be implemented in EVERY state, not just a select few, because that just hurts those who follow the law. The migrant workers will just stay out of e-verify states unless the law is mandatory nationwide. The chances of that happening with Obama in office are not very good, seeing what he and AG Holder are doing to Gov. Brewer in AZ. So rather than punish FL farmers to satisfy a few people, he chooses to put the ball in Obamas court and let things remain as they are and as they have been until we get some kind of leadership in DC that will have the kahonies to make illegal immigration laws that cover EVERY state, making it fair to ALL farmers. Remember, Obama said that immigration is a federal thing and states have no right to enact laws to curb it.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 16, 2012 at 07:10 AM in reply to 62nitro
      Actually, we can be right on both. Both options say he is a liar-check. One says he is a racist- check. Hates immigrants- check but he loves money more so he'll tolerate them for the money. Flip-flopper- check. Realized he was wrong- oops, I'll give ya that one. That man will never admit to being wrong about anything. he would rather spend every last penny this state has on his stupid court cases than to admit his errors.
      • reply
        by 62nitro on Jun 16, 2012 at 01:51 PM in reply to
        I get it. When our president makes a mistake and changes his mind, he's "evolving", when RS or MR changes his mind, they are flip-floppers. Well, the way you dems are running this country right now, we won't have to worry about it for too much longer. The way you idiots are [not] protecting our southern border, pretty soon when you make a phone call, the operator will say "press 1 for Spanish". Adios muchachos!
  • by Sage Location: Tally on Jun 15, 2012 at 10:08 AM
    So another politician goes back on another promise. Makes him a liar in my book. AND a crook to allow known illegal activity to continue. Crimestoppers wants to hear from you dude! Report those employers you know to be breaking the law. We uns need those jobs!!
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