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The National Grocers Association (NGA) has issued a formal position statement advocating comprehensive immigration reform. The position, unanimously approved by the Arlington, Va.-based association’s executive committee and board of directors, calls for immigration reform to preempt state and local laws and include the following key principles:
- Border Security: U.S. borders must be secured and the rule of law must be enforced.
- Employer Verification: NGA backs mandatory E-Verify of new hires for all employers, at no cost to the employer. Employers must have a strong safe harbor of protections in exchange for good-faith compliance of E-Verify.
- Expanded Guest Worker Program: Expand the guest worker program to include workers skilled in baking, butchering and foodservice, as well as other low-skilled workers important for the supermarket industry.
- Clear Path to Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants and their Children: This path should enable the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States to work openly, with background checks and penalties.
At NGA’s board of directors meeting in February, a task force of member companies, including representatives from both retail and wholesale companies, was formed to review various proposals and challenges confronting the supermarket industry, with the end goal of developing the association’s position on immigration reform. The task force, chaired by board member Bob Ling, president and CEO of Seattle-based Unified Grocers, crafted a position in April.
“Employers are facing an ever-growing patchwork of state and local immigration laws that further complicate a broken system,” noted Ling. “The lack of progress in developing an effective national policy has adversely impacted our customers, employees and their families. Now is the time to enact meaningful reform, and NGA and its members can play a key role in the process.”
“The immigration issue is one that directly impacts our industry,” said NGA president and CEO Peter J. Larkin. “NGA’s position takes a commonsense approach by addressing border security, undocumented workers, and important employer provisions and protections.” Larkin added that the organization would work “with Congress, the White House and other stakeholders to help pass comprehensive legislation that is inclusive of NGA’s position and the priorities of the independent supermarket industry.”
The full NGA Immigration Position Statement is available online.