Flawed Employment Verification Stripped Out Of Stimulus Package By Conference Committee

February 13, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU Welcomes Development, Calls For Full Examination Of E-Verify

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WASHINGTON – A requirement to use a flawed employment verification program (E-Verify) for all recipients of stimulus funding was stripped out of the conference report for the economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill today. The American Civil Liberties Union applauds this development, noting that if the E-Verify mandate had been included, the stimulus package could have failed to achieve its objective of putting unemployed Americans back to work. E-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative, checks employees’ citizenship status against Social Security Administration and DHS files that are plagued with errors.

The conference committee has been meeting this week to iron out the differences in the stimulus packages passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House version contained a provision that all recipients of stimulus funding would be required to use the E-Verify system. The Senate version, passed on Tuesday, did not contain the mandate.

“Removing the problematic employment verification provision from the economic stimulus package will help unemployed Americans get back to work,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “E-Verify is known to create significant delays in hiring new employees, a consequence our economy and American workers should not have to suffer in such difficult economic times. Both employers and employees can now sleep easier knowing their efforts to find employment will not be unnecessarily thwarted once President Obama enacts the stimulus funding.”

This latest development will likely lead to a debate in Congress on employment verification over the next three weeks, with the expiration for authorization of E-Verify coming up on March 6. Furthering the discussion is the program review ordered by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“By stripping out this counterintuitive provision in the stimulus package, Congress has reaffirmed the fact that E-Verify should be voluntary at best,” said Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “Secretary Napolitano’s review should conclude that employment verification systems are not an effective means of enforcing immigration policy. The conference committee has done the right thing by removing E-Verify from the stimulus package.”

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