FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2009
5:35 PM

CONTACT: ACLU

Linda Paris, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org  

Senate Passes Harmful Grassley Amendment Encouraging Use of E-Verify for Existing Employees, Not Just New Hires

Amendment Could Cause Unjust Termination of US Workers Lacking Photo ID, Says ACLU

WASHINGTON - July 10 - The U.S. Senate approved an amendment Thursday night to the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 allowing employers enrolled in E-Verify to verify the identity all of their current employees, not just new hires, through the system. The amendment, offered by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), passed the Senate by voice vote.

Under Grassley's proposal, the DHS E-Verify system would require that all workers present government-issued photo ID to their employers, such as a passport or driver's license. This documentation requirement would apply to all workers, including U.S. citizens, employed with an employer enrolled in E-Verify. The Grassley amendment encourages employers enrolled in E-Verify to verify the identification of all current employees, even if they have worked many years for that employer and even if they started work prior to the employer's enrollment in E-Verify. The Grassley amendment was one of many "enforcement-only" amendments passed by the Senate this week and added to the Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

Though intended to catch unauthorized workers, the Grassley amendment will, in fact, jeopardize U.S. workers at a time of growing unemployment. Approximately 11 million U.S. citizens do not have birth certificates or U.S. passports. Because many states require a birth certificate or passport in order to get a state-issued photo ID, millions of U.S. citizens cannot obtain such photo ID. Under the Grassley amendment, these U.S. workers could lose their jobs because they cannot meet the photo ID requirements specified in E-Verify.

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

"At a time when our country is facing double-digit unemployment rates, the Senate has passed several amendments this week that will directly harm U.S. citizen workers. Instead of focusing its time on restoring jobs to U.S. citizens, the Senate has opted to use a spending bill to push through highly flawed enforcement measures which will, in fact, shut out innocent U.S. workers from much-needed jobs." 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.



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