Tucked deep into the sweeping immigration reform package moving toward what many expect to be passage in the U.S. Senate is a provision that could readily affect every American who takes a new job. The proposed requirement would have every U.S. employer use the so-called E-Verify system to validate the legal eligibility to work of every potential new employee.
This morning's New York Times reports that most Americans are unaware of the mandate's broad scope.
“I don’t think people really understand that this creates a regulation not just for every employer, or for every immigrant, but also for every citizen in this country,” said David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo said he would favor the E-Verify expansion, but has introduced an amendment to the provision that would place a "use restriction" on which E-Verify photographs could or couldn't be used in a searchable database.
"Unless otherwise directed, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will have the ability to maintain a database of photos provided by participating state agencies, essentially moving down the path toward a national ID system," said Crapo. "Recent revelations about the extent of government surveillance, be it the IRS, CFPB or NSA, have many Idahoans concerned about the erosion of their privacy."
Simply put, Crapo's amendment would order the DHS not to use, disclose or store the photos for any purpose other than employment verification.
The Times reports that Homeland Security officials insist that errors are rare, and that they are "confident the system can handle the expansion." DHS says a recently added tool will allow employers to match a photo in the E-Verify system with a document presented by the new employee. A separate tool would allow the public to check themselves before starting a job search.