ACLU Raises Concerns on Senate Immigration Bill; Proposed Legislation Would Harm Privacy, Due Process

May 25, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed grave concerns about the due process and privacy implications of the Senate immigration bill. The proposed legislation would create a vast federal database to verify the work eligibility of all job applicants in America - including U.S. citizens; expand indefinite detention; and deny effective judicial review of Department of Homeland Security errors denying immigration status.

"The bill denies essential due process, seeks to overturn Supreme Court limits on detention and fails to guarantee meaningful judicial review," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. "Substantial changes must be made to ensure that the legislation adheres to the values of our country and our Constitution. Without effective judicial oversight, any new program enacted by Congress can be gutted by an overburdened, incompetent or hostile bureaucracy."

The proposed legislation would require every job applicant in America to have their eligibility to work verified by the DHS, using the error-plagued Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS). EEVS creates a massive government database containing extraordinary amounts of personal information on everyone in America, tied to each individual’s Social Security number. If DHS makes a mistake in determining work eligibility, there will be virtually no way to challenge the error or recover lost wages due to the bill’s prohibitions on judicial review.

As a part of EEVS, every person in America would be forced to carry a hardened Social Security card perhaps containing biometric information about the cardholder - essentially a national ID - and present a Real ID-compliant driver’s license to get any new job. The proposed legislation also expands current practice of expedited removal. The ACLU noted that these policies do nothing to solve the problems of illegal immigration and violate the fundamental American value of due process.

"EEVS would be a financial and bureaucratic nightmare for both businesses and workers," said Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Under this already flawed program no one would be able to work in the U.S. without DHS approval - creating a ‘No Work List’ similar to the government’s ‘No Fly List.’ We need immigration reform, but not at this cost."

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