Small business needs a balanced immigration bill

A group of senators, lead by Sen. Al Franken D-Minn.), proposed amendments that would create safe harbors for small businesses within an E-Verify system. Unfortunately, the amendment, that would have delayed E-Verify requirements for small businesses with fewer than 15 employees until the system’s error rate was stable, didn’t make it into the bill voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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It is imperative something similar be included in a final bill. If it’s not, employers with one, two or three employees will face the exact same requirements as businesses with 500 employees. For very small companies, which often have no HR departments, this could be too much of a burden. A one-size-fits-all policy simply won’t work.
And small business owners know it won’t.

Small Business Majority’s opinion polling found nearly seven in 10 employers support exempting very small businesses with fewer than five employees from E-Verify requirements. Of the small employers polled who have chosen to hire immigrants, the majority said one of the biggest challenges they face in using immigrant labor is concern about following the letter of the law. Next to differences in language and culture, a combined 41 percent cited concerns about whether they are complying with the law in hiring immigrants and the time and expense involved in verifying legal workers. This underscores why it’s so critical a carve-out be included.

Small businesses are doing everything they can to pull the economy out of the doldrums. The last thing they need is a burdensome requirement that takes them away from running their business and growing the economy. Policymakers should keep small business owners’ needs in mind while writing a final bill. Some small business owners’ future success could hang in the balance.

Arensmeyer is the founder & CEO of Small Business Majority.