Republicans pushed E-Verify closer to the finish line on Thursday, approving a measure in the Commerce committee that will require employers to use the system to verify the employment eligibility of new hires.
The bill (HB 1265), submitted by Representative Cord Byrd, passed today’s committee on a party line vote with Republicans voting 16-8 to advance the measure. The legislation will now head to the House floor to be voted on next week.
Unlike previous iterations that discussed implementing a federal version of the bill to include both public and private employers, Byrd’s proposal would only require public employers to use the system to check the workers’ eligibility.
The bill, however, would give private businesses the option to collect copies of documents (form I-9), which is used by the federal government to verify the identity and employment eligibility of workers.
After banning sanctuary cities last year, Byrd, along with Senator Joe Gruters, promised to continue to promote the rule of law in the 2020 Legislative Session. That promise was fulfilled at the end of 2019 when both men help spearhead E-Verify bills in their respective chambers.
While Gruters bill (SB 1822) has stalled in the Senate, another E-Verify bill (SB 644) sponsored by Senator Tom Lee has picked up steam. Moving through two committees this session, Lee’s measure would require private employers in Florida to check workers’ employment eligibility in the U.S. using a federal database.
The issue of E-Verify has been controversial to say the least. Proponents of the legislation believe the proposal will protect against unfair job competition, wage depression, and lead to more transparency during the hiring process. Opponents, however, believe the bill will be expensive and lead more migrant workers to take jobs in other states.
Though Republicans wanted to see a broader version of the bill pass, Thursday’s marks a significant victory — being the first movement for E-Verify legislation in the House.
Representative Anthony Sabatini, a cosponsor of Byrd’s bill, said today’s vote is a start to end illegal immigration and hold people accountable.
“This is a bill about the Rule of Law — it’s time to stop incentivizing illegal immigration,” Sabatini said following the vote.
Other GOP co-sponsores praised the bill for supporting President Donald Trump‘s agenda.
“The Florida House is poised for a floor vote on E-Verify. This great piece of legislation puts American workers first and supports President Trump’s agenda of lowering unemployment and boosting our robust economy,”Republican Mike Hill said.”The timing and momentum is there to finally pass this legislation this session.”
“I’m anxious to cast my “Yes” vote,” he continued.
E-Verify has been at the top of Governor Ron DeSantis‘ legislative priorities. With a crucial 2020 election around the corner, the issue of illegal immigration is certain to be at the forefront of Trump’s re-election.