October 23, 2008

Multi-Sector Employer Group Concerned About New Immigration Rule

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued new immigration enforcement rules. Titled "Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter: Clarification; Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis," the new rule is almost identical to one issued in 2006 which has been tied up in court due to questions about its legality.

Known as No Match, the rule requires employers to terminate any worker whose social security number cannot be verified by the Social Security Administration. However, the rule does not include a component to replace these terminated workers, thus leaving a major shortfall of labor that could devastate Oregon's economy. The new rule, much like the one issued in 2006, still offers only a partial solution to the immigration problem as a whole.

"Immigration reform is a complicated issue," said Jeff Stone with the Oregon Association of Nurseries. "The only way to successfully fix it is through comprehensive reform. This is the same rule that does not take into account the onerous impact and cost it will have to small business."

Stone is co-chair of the Coalition for a Working Oregon (CWO), a group consisting of 20 leading Oregon employer associations that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level. The group shares concerns that significant disruption of the labor force without providing a mechanism for replacing eliminated workers will jeopardize Oregon businesses and the economy.

The CWO recently released a study that determined the elimination of undocumented workers in Oregon could reduce statewide economic output by $17.7 billion and reduce state tax revenues by $656 million. The ripple effect to the Oregon economy would be $8.7 billion over the short term and would cause additional job loss. The study was conducted by William Jaeger, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University.

In a statement issued today, Secretary Chertoff stated, "Ultimately to solve the problem of illegal migration...we're going to have to go back to Congress and see if we can get comprehensive reform in the future." He continued, "This is not a situation that's sustainable over a long period of time."

"We agree with Secretary Chertoff that immigration reform is essential to solve the long-term labor issues facing this nation," said Bill Perry of the Oregon Restaurant Association and co-chair of the CWO. "But he has to understand that this partial solution will ultimately delay our ability to get the Federal government to pass meaningful reform."

The new rule will be presented to Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Breyer placed an injunction on the original No Match rule last year, due in part to the fact that a comprehensive economic analysis on the effects of the rule had not been completed.

To view CWO's economic study, please visit the website at http://www.oregoncanwork.org/.

About Coalition for a Working Oregon

Coalition for a Working Oregon (CWO) is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sensible and thoughtful comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. The CWO is comprised of 20 Oregon employer groups who represent over 300,000 Oregon workers. For more information on CWO, please visit http://www.oregoncanwork.org/ or call (503) 796-3013.

CONTACT: Kelly O'Brien, 503-274-8886

Coalition for a Working Oregon

CONTACT: Kelly O'Brien, +1-503-274-8886, for Coalition for a WorkingOregon

Web Site: http://www.oregoncanwork.org/