Employment Verification Would Create a ‘No Work List’ in the U.S.

May 6, 2008 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – As the House Ways & Means subcommittee on Social Security met today to debate employment eligibility verification systems, the American Civil Liberties Union sounds its call for Congress not to erect barriers for Americans who seek employment. The hearing is to examine the impact that employment verification systems would have on the Social Security Administration (SSA), an already overburdened governmental agency.

“Congress should not create a ‘No Work List’ for Americans seeking employment,” stated Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Implementing an employment verification system in America would surely overload the Social Security Administration. We’ve already seen a high error rate in the pilot project – once that system gets expanded to the entire American workforce, many people will be barred from working. And the errors in individual records that could prevent some Americans from working would further complicate the provision of retirement checks or disability money to those who need it. Americans should not have to ask their federal government if they have permission to accept a new job.”

Numerous bills are pending in Congress to mandate such a system. For example, Representatives Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) have introduced H.R. 4088, the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act of 2007, legislation that would create a problematic governmental clearinghouse for employment. It assigns this approval to the SSA, which would only slow down the already burdened SSA’s remittance of disability and retirement claims.

“Any employment verification system would only prevent the SSA from facilitating the largest wave of retirement this nation will ever see when the baby boomers begin to leave the workforce,” said Timothy Sparapani, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU. “Mandating an employment eligibility prescreening requirement would add layers of bureaucratic checkpoints for anyone seeking a new job and would put the federal government in the business of deciding who can and cannot make a living. We already know the SSA to have more than its share of data errors, which would expel innocent Americans to a dreaded ‘No Work List.’ Congress should not move forward with an employment verification system.”

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