Social Insecurity: SSA Not Ready to Take on Immigration Enforcement

<b>Social Insecurity: SSA Not Ready to Take on Immigration Enforcement</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The latest “flavor of the week” in federal immigration enforcement bills is the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which relies on the electronic employment verification system (EEVS), which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calls “E-Verify.”

EEVS sounds easy. Employees fill out an I-9 form proving that they are authorized to work in the U.S. The employer enters this information into a computer, which searches the Social Security Administration (SSA) and DHS databases. If the information provided matches the database, the employee is eligible to work. If not, the employee has a short time to fix the glitch with SSA; if they do not, they must be terminated.

The SAVE Act would require the country’s 7.4 million employers to participate in a mandatory EEVS program. Currently, 55,000 employers use E-Verify – fewer than 1 percent of employers. Adding over 7 million employers to the E-Verify program would cause widespread chaos:

U.S. citizens would be adversely affected: Employees who receive a non-confirmation from E-Verify are often fully eligible to work. The error may be due to a name change, adjustment of immigration status or a data-entry error. SSA estimates that 17.8 million of its records contain such discrepancies – an error rate of 4.1 percent.

E-Verify spurs discrimination: Contrary to state policy, 47 percent of employers using E-Verify entered their employees’ information before the employee’s first day of work rather than after hiring, as required by law.

These employers, fearful of fines and hassles involved with non-confirmation notices, racially profile their prospective employees to begin with and avoid hiring those who appear foreign-born, or refuse to hire those who do not “pass” the E-Verify test. Others encourage those who receive non-confirmations to not contest them; still others take advantage of the non-confirmation status to require their workers to work longer hours under poorer conditions.

It is clear that E-Verify is not ready for prime time. Neither the DHS nor SSA databases have reached the level of accuracy required for a mandatory electronic employment verification system to function fairly and efficiently. Rather than enacting harsh new “enforcement only” measures like the SAVE Act, Congress should get back to the hard work of enacting smart, workable immigration reform that serves America’s interests by protecting employees and employers alike.

For more information, visit The American Immigration Lawyers Association at www.aila.org.

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