(March 12, 2:15 p.m.) A motion to discharge an “enforcement only” immigration bill from the jurisdiction of various committees and force a full vote in the House has some industry advocates concerned.

The legislation is dangerous for labor-intensive agriculture because it outlines sanctions on employers without offering agricultural labor reforms that would provide them a legal workforce, said Nancy Foster, president of the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va.

“I doubt it could pass the Senate, but in this business you never say never,” she said.

Foster said votes on immigration legislation are particularly hard to predict in an election year.

Heath Schuler, D-N.C., last November introduced House Resolution 4088, the “Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007.”

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate last year.

The motion to discharge, backed by House Republican leadership, had picked up 150 votes by March 12, according to The Library of Congress Web site. According to House rules, 217 votes are needed to bypass a committee to go to the floor of the House, Foster said.

Foster said the bill includes mandatory provisions that would be damaging to agricultural employer if no other labor reforms are passed.

The Congressional Research Service said Schuler’s bill would:

  • increase Border Patrol and investigative personnel;

  • amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to make the basic employment eligibility confirmation pilot program permanent;

  • establish conditions for the mandatory use of an electronic verify system.

  • requires employer/employee notification of Social Security number mismatches and multiple uses, and related information sharing with the Department of Homeland Security.

Foster said success with the immigration issue in 2008 may be more defined as preventing something bad from happening than achieving any groundbreaking reform.

“This bill does nothing to do with agricultural needs,” she said.