House Judiciary Chairman Introduces Bill Mandating Use of Error-Prone Electronic Employment Verification System

June 14, 2011 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) today introduced H.R. 2164, the Legal Workforce Act, which would mandate the use of an electronic employment eligibility verification screening system for almost every American within two years. The bill would require that all information gathered through I-9 Forms, which all new employees must fill out, go through the error-prone E-Verify databases. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes E-Verify because of privacy concerns, as well as its unfair impact on workers and lack of due process protections.

“Because the E-Verify system contains so many errors under the Smith bill, more than a million workers would have to fix their records with the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security before they could start a new job,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The bill would be a nightmare for workers with few remedies for those who are harmed by these errors and no mechanism to easily fix errors.”

The massive database necessary to implement and expand E-Verify would also pose a threat to workers’ privacy rights. It would be a new source of personal information for identity thieves. Further, like the Social Security number, use of E-Verify could quickly expand and become a de facto identity check for travel or other purposes. Finally, the Smith bill contains a pilot program allowing employers to fingerprint employees and begin to build a biometric national ID card.

“Under E-Verify, American workers would be involuntarily signing up for never-ending digital surveillance that starts with employment and will spread to many parts of their lives,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel. “The fact that the bill begins to create a biometric national ID card, with information such as a fingerprint, hand scan or iris scan, demonstrates its complete disregard for privacy.”

A statement submitted by the ACLU for the hearing is available at:

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