House Republicans are fracturing over an E-Verify immigration bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and supported by presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, The Hill reports
The bill requires that employers use the E-Verify system to check their employees’ legal work status. It passed the Judiciary Committee in September on a party-line vote. But it’s not clear that it has the votes to pass the House, as most Democrats are opposed to it as well. Sources tell The Hill that at least two dozen GOP House members oppose the bill.
Republican congressmen are worried that the legislation infringes on states’ rights, that the federal government won’t do a good job enforcing it, and that it will hurt the agriculture sector, which relies on foreign labor.
Romney has endorsed the bill’s concept and criticized his opponent Rick Perry for opposing a statewide E-Verify program as governor of Texas.
Freshman Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., who emphasized fighting illegal immigration in his election campaign, leads the opposition to Smith’s bill. Barletta argues that it could prevent cities and states which have passed strong immigration laws from enforcing them.
“I have no faith that the federal government is serious about enforcing our immigration laws,” he told The Hill. “They haven’t, I don’t believe they will. And the Supreme Court agrees that the states have the right. Why would we come along now and take that away from them?”
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