Immigration bill would require re-verification of 145 million American workers
A story in tomorrow's New York Times (reg. req.) describes how U.S. employers, despite having had a considerable amount of input into the current immigration bill, are unhappy with the result in a number of ways. In particular, they are worried that a "merit-based" system for allocating green cards would result in the government deciding whom to let in rather than businesses being able to apply for immigrant workers with the skills they need.
However, the area of greatest general concern may be a proposal that would require employers to re-verify the identity of every single person currently employed in the United States. Not only would it place a considerable burden on both government and business, but the verification system currently being tested has shown a significant rate of error.
Under a 1986 law, employers are supposed to ask all job applicants for documents to verify that they are eligible to work in the United States. The Senate bill goes much further, requiring employers to copy the documents and check an electronic database established by the government.
"We cannot ask our employers to verify somebody here unless we help them," President Bush said last week.
But Susan R. Meisinger, president of the Society for Human Resource Management, which represents 215,000 personnel executives, said: "The Senate proposal would require employers to re-verify the identity and employment eligibility of 145 million Americans who are currently employed. That's unworkable. The burden on government and the private sector could cause the system to crash."
The government has been testing an employee verification system like the one envisioned in the Senate bill. Federal investigators have found a significant error rate because information in the database is sometimes inaccurate or outdated.
THE FULL, REGISTRATION-RESTRICTED STORY IS AVAILABLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES.