ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Grocers Association here released a formal position statement Wednesday calling for comprehensive immigration reform that preempts state and local laws.

The reforms it is seeking include border security; employer verification, encompassing the mandatory use of E-Verify for new hires for all employers, at no cost to the employer; an expanded guest worker program, encompassing both skilled and unskilled workers important to the industry; and a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants and their children.

The recommendations for reform stemmed from a task force of NGA retail and wholesale member companies — chaired by Bob Ling, president and chief executive officer of Unified Grocers, Los Angeles — that was created in February to review various proposals and challenges facing the industry. Those reforms were submitted and approved in April by NGA's executive committee and board.

According to Ling, "Employers are facing an ever-growing patchwork of state and local immigration laws that further complicate a broken system. 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.

Peter J. Larkin, NGA president and CEO, said, "NGA's position take a common-sense approach by addressing border security, undocumented workers and important employer provisions and protections. We look forward to working 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."

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