(April 10, 5:03 p.m.) Tens of billions of dollars in federal budget outlays would be needed if a tough new immigration enforcement bill becomes law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in early April. And that may have stalled support for the measure, said Jason Resnick, assistant general counsel for Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers.

Republicans have been trying to recruit fiscally conservative Democrats to support the Secure America Through Employment Verification, which would require employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system when new workers are hired.

If backers of the bill find 218 representatives in support of the bill in the House, the bill — also called The SAVE Act — can be brought up for debate without passing through the committee process.

Supporters have been stuck on 185 names on the discharge position since the first of April, however, and Resnick said the budget office estimate had slowed momentum.

Western Growers and other produce industry lobbyists are working to defeat the bill, which they say fails to protect Americans and other legal workers from the flaw in the E-Verify system. The legislation does nothing to provide legal paths for foreign workers to assist U.S. growers, Resnick said.

“They are about 33 votes away, and for now it looks like it has stalled,” he said.

However, he predicts the issue will remain active.

“I’m sure the anti-immigration folks will put on a full court press to get the final 33 signatures on the discharge motion,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to oppose it.”

The April 4 budget office report said the act would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion between 2009-18. The decrease would occur because the Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would result in an increasing number of undocumented workers being paid outside the tax system.

What’s more, the report said the SAVE Act would increase federal direct spending by $30 million over that time period and authorize more than a $10 billion increase in discretionary spending from 2009-13.