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Rob Green, executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants, commended the Senate for passing the legislation. “NCCR will continue to work to ensure that important improvements are made to the bill as the legislative process continues,” he said. “In particular, NCCR and our members have reservations about specific elements of the employment verification framework adopted by the Senate. We will continue to work with our members and coalition partners to ensure that the bill is furthered strengthened in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The IFA also has some reservations, Caldeira noted. While the organization welcomes a federal E-Verify system, he said, “We believe stronger E-Verify language … should ultimately be included in a final comprehensive immigration reform law, given it would provide stronger protections to employers in the hiring process.”

David French, senior vice president of government relations for the National Retail Association, the parent of the NCCR, praised the bill’s passage, but echoed other association leaders’ concerns about E-Verify, the federal government’s employment verification system.

“While the bill moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration, NRF will continue to look for additional opportunities to improve and strengthen the bill, especially in regard to employer verification or E-Verify provisions. Retailers and the business community alike need a bill that is flexible and workable within their business models.”

But despite widespread support, the legislation is expected to encounter serious headwinds when it is taken up in the U.S. House of Representatives. Speaker of the House John Boehner has said he will not bring a bill up for a vote that doesn’t have majority support from Republicans, who control the House. Instead, he said it would focus on a House-written bill that addresses immigration reform piecemeal.

President Barack Obama has called for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

The basic immigration legislation was introduced earlier this year by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight.” They are Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Contact Paul Frumkin at paul.frumkin@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @NRNPaul.