House Hears Testimony On Electronic Employment Verification System

For Immediate Release

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Claire O’Brien, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

House Hears Testimony On Electronic Employment Verification System

WASHINGTON - The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement today held a hearing on the merits of E-Verify, an electronic employment eligibility verification screening system. Some legislative proposals would mandate checking E-Verify – an error-prone database of all those eligible to work in the U.S. – before allowing anyone to start a new job. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes these proposals because of their unfair impact on workers, lack of due process protections and privacy concerns.

“The E-Verify databases are riddled with errors that resulted in 80,000 lawful U.S. workers being denied jobs in 2009,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “During such difficult economic times, the last thing workers need is another obstacle standing between them and employment.”

The E-Verify system is based on the Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases, which have unacceptably high error rates involving U.S. citizens’ records. Discrepancies between workers’ Social Security numbers and Social Security Administration records can result from many innocent factors including clerical errors and name changes. People who are mistakenly identified through E-Verify as ineligible for work have no judicial remedy and must file cumbersome Privacy Act requests with a variety of agencies to correct their records.

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The massive database necessary to implement and expand E-Verify would also pose a threat to workers’ privacy rights and would leave workers vulnerable to identity theft. The database would contain an enormous amount of personal information, including names, photos, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and employment history in addition to immigration status. The information contained in E-Verify databases could easily be combined with other data such as travel, financial or communication records to facilitate the surveillance of innocent Americans.

“E-Verify databases containing a wealth of personal information on every legal worker in the country would be a goldmine for identity thieves,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Without the proper oversight and restrictions, American workers would be signing up for never ending digital surveillance every time they apply for a job.”

A statement submitted by the ACLU for the hearing is available at:
www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-technology-and-liberty/aclu-statement-house-subcommittee-immigration-policy-and-en
 

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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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