WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and the AFL-CIO said today that any immigration reform Congress considers must not violate workers’ privacy through an intrusive, bureaucratic Employment Eligibility Verification System. The Senate is expected to address immigration when it returns next week from its Easter recess.
“Too much of the debate over immigration reform has ignored one of the greatest threats to our privacy,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The proposed employer verification system would require Americans, regardless of citizenship, to get a ‘permission slip to work’ from the government. If Congress wants to reform immigration, then it should, but it shouldn’t use this legislation as a clandestine means to subvert our constitutional right to privacy.”
“Unfortunately, proposals currently before Congress do not address the real issue, which is the incentive to exploit workers--both US and native born,” said Jon Hiatt, AFL CIO General Counsel. “Instead, they contemplate a large expansion of electronic verification systems, which have already been tested, and have proven to be detrimental to workers.”
The EEVS would require - for the first time - all workers to obtain a federal agency’s permission to work, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. It would create two massive government databases containing the most sensitive personal information on every lawful resident. Every worker would be registered in the two systems with data files tracking every job they ever sought or held. The two systems combine that information with substantial amounts of personally identifiable information, all keyed to a person’s Social Security number.
All employers would be required to participate in a national employment eligibility verification program in an expansion of the faulty but voluntary “Basic Pilot” program. However, no proposals have been brought forth to provide for a secure system; making it likely that the EEVS system would be a ripe target for identity thieves.
The Government Accountability Office estimated implementation costs at $11.7 billion annually, a large share of which would be borne by businesses. In addition to the ACLU and the AFL-CIO, the conservative Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have expressed strong objections to the employment verification provisions.
To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with immigration legislation, please go to: www.aclu.org/immigrants/index.html