By attending panels like the one recently organized by Alabama Employers for Immigration Reform, Alabama small business owners are educating themselves about how to comply with the E-Verify requirement of a state immigration law passed earlier this year.
The four attorneys on the AEIR panel stressed the importance of running every employee through the federal E-Verify database to determine their citizenship status, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.
There are no penalties for business owners who do not use E-Verify, but consequences will be harsh if authorities discover illegal workers on company payrolls. A first offense results in a probationary period, a second offense causes business licenses to be revoked for the location where the illegal employee worked, and a third offense means a business will have to close up shop.
Judson Johnson, owner of a concrete finishing business and one of the panel attendees, told the Advertiser he knows a number of his employees are unauthorized to work in the country, and he fears he will not be able to replace them with legal workers.
Johnson's concern is shared by business owners in other states that have adopted laws like Alabama's. California farmers are so worried about the effects of E-Verify they have lobbied federal lawmakers to create a new temporary worker designation so they can retain their current labor force, the Fresno Bee recently reported.