Johnson Re-Introduces Bipartisan Worksite Enforcement Bill
The New Employee Verification Act
Apr 23, 2009 -
Today U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (3rd Dist.-Texas) urged his colleagues to adopt his bipartisan bill to combat illegal immigration with mandatory worksite enforcement. Johnson, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Social Security, Committee on Ways and Means, re-introduced the New Employee Verification Act, H.R. 2028, with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (8th Dist.-Ariz.)
“Employers want, need and deserve a reliable employee verification system and I want to give it to them,” said Johnson.
The New Employee Verification Act achieves three important goals: ensure a legal workforce, safeguard workers’ identities, and protect Social Security. “The bill offers an innovative and bipartisan approach to a critical component of our immigration system – worksite verification,” said Johnson.
First, this legislation seeks to prevent the hiring of illegal workers. The current failed, paper-based I-9 screening process is replaced with an Electronic Employee Verification System, known as EEVS. The system would rely on the use of fewer, more secure identity documents and would build upon the new hire reporting process in each state. This program is already used by 90% of employers and was put in place a dozen years ago to track down dead beat dads.
For Americans, work authorization would be confirmed only through the Social Security Administration. For non-citizens, work authorization would be confirmed through the Department of Homeland Security that maintains relevant databases on visa and immigration status.
Through the current pilot program on employee verification, E-Verify, the Department of Homeland Security checks the work authorization of newly hired employees of employers who choose to participate. Johnson believes that the DHS has no business keeping tabs on the work records of law-abiding citizens and considers this the fundamental job of the Social Security Administration (SSA).
E-Verify will expire on September 30, 2009. NEVA will extend E-Verify until November of 2013; E-Verify will be repealed when NEVA is fully implemented, which is 36 months after the date of enactment of the bill.
“An agency responsible for tracking terrorists and securing our borders should not be keeping track of when and where Americans work. Yet, according to their own privacy documents from February 2008, the Department of Homeland Security is building databases and maintaining data on the work history of American citizens and American employers. That’s just wrong,” said Johnson.
Second, the legislation would also help safeguard workers’ identities. A voluntary system for employers would be created using the latest technology to authenticate and protect a worker’s identity. Private sector experts, certified by the federal government, would first verify work authorization in EEVS, but would also authenticate the identity of employees by utilizing existing background-check and document screening tools. The identity would then be secured through a biometric identifier, such as a finger print or eye scan. This is the Secure Electronic Employee Verification System, SEEVS.
In April 2008, Homeland Security agents raided Pilgrim’s Pride chicken-plucker plants in five states in the South, including Texas. The federal agents took 400 employees into custody and charged the illegal immigrants with document fraud and selling stolen Social Security numbers. The poultry producer voluntarily participates in the employment verification system, E-verify.
In December 2006, nearly 1,300 workers in six states at Swift and Company were arrested, including many in Cactus, Texas. A Swift and Company human resource official testified before a House panel that Swift had willingly participated in the government’s voluntary verification program, E-verify, for Social Security numbers since 1997.
“These companies played by the rules and tried to do everything right, yet they still ended up hiring illegal immigrants by accident. The immigrations raids showcase the growing practice by illegal immigrants of using authentic documents - borrowed, rented, purchased or stolen - to avoid detection in the hiring process. Clearly we must create new solutions to prevent illegal immigrants from taking American jobs,” concluded Johnson.
Third, the bill would help protect the integrity of the Social Security system. Not only would the legislation prevent future unauthorized wages from being used to determine Social Security benefits, the bill would also protect the Social Security Administration’s primary mission and trust funds by authorizing employment verification only through advanced appropriated funds.
The Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel, and the Human Resource Initiative for a Legal Workforce (www.legal-workforce.org) back the New Employee Verification Act.
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