Several Immigration Controls Proposed

Several Immigration Controls Proposed

New plan to catch illegal workers underway.

The issue of immigration has moved to the front-burner as both the U.S. Senate and the Department of Homeland Security has begun taking action on employee eligibility verification. The Senate voted this week to require federal contractors to use an electronic employee eligibility verification system and to set construction standards for the fence now going up along the border with Mexico. Both provisions were amendments to the fiscal 2010 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.


Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, offered a separate amendment that would allow employers the opportunity to access this free, online database system to check all their workers. He noted when people enter this country illegally they create undue delays and hardship for people following the rules. He called E-verify an effective tool to fight illegal immigrants who break the law.


Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that starting in September President Obama will require federal contractors to confirm the identities of 4 million workers against federal databases. As for the 2007 rule that would have sent Social Security no-match letters to 140,000, warning them to fix discrepancies or fire suspect workers within 90 days to avoid facing criminal penalties, Napolitano says the department will overturn it. Analysts say this is the clearest sign of Obama's efforts to plan a middle course on immigration enforcement so far.


Napolitano said the department will take a new, more modern and effective approach, requiring nearly 170,000 federal contractors to confirm immigration and Social Security data of new hires through E-Verify. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., says making the government system permanent and mandatory for federal contractors would be a big step toward meeting the public's expectations. But Spokesman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Angelo Amador said business groups are going to fight the contractor requirement in federal court because they don't think Congress ever intended to make participation in the worker verification program mandatory.


Another viewpoint comes from Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who doesn't think E-Verify goes far enough,  and has proposed using a verification system based on fingerprints, eye scans and other unique identifiers of workers.

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