ACLU Statement on President Bush’s Directive Mandating Employment Verification for All Governmental Contracts

June 9, 2008 12:00 am

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Late last week, President Bush issued a National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive that requires all governmental contracts to go through an employment verification process, checking potential employees against their Social Security file. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been plagued with errors for individual records, resulting in massive backlogs in SSA field offices for the elderly and disabled. Adding employment verification to the SSA’s duties would only exacerbate problems the agency is already facing.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, Senior Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union:

“The President’s immigration announcement will effectively create a ‘No-Work’ list, preventing eligible Americans from working. This policy will vastly increase, not decrease, the incidence of identity thefts because they are turning American workers’ identities into black market commodities. This will not decrease immigration, but it will cause enormous turmoil and economic distress for the poor workers who wrongly lose their jobs due to erroneous government data or whose identity is borrowed by an undocumented immigrant who is desperate to work.

“Once again it is shown that the President’s immigration policy boils down to nothing more than simply wishing upon a star. Who will handle this massive expansion of a pilot program that even reports commissioned by DHS said was a disaster in the making? Which government workers will respond to the requests of the thousands of government contractor employees who will be wrongly terminated because government data errors caused them to lose their jobs?”

Sparapani will testify tomorrow before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law on the effects of implementing a mandatory electronic employment verification system in the United States. Six members of Congress will also testify before the subcommittee, marking the growing significance of this issue to both members of Congress and the American people.

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