|The Obama administration will require businesses that win federal contracts to use a government electronic database system to verify that their employees have legal immigration status to work in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Wednesday.|
After a six-month review, Homeland Security officials decided to go ahead with a worker-verification plan based on the electronic system, called E-Verify. The system, which the Bush administration sought to put into effect in its final months, is meant to prevent federal contractors from hiring illegal immigrants.
At the same time, Homeland Security officials said they would drop another Bush administration proposal that would have forced employers to fire any workers whose Social Security information did not match the records of the Social Security Administration. That measure, called the no-match rule, had been challenged in federal court by immigrant advocates and businesses, who said the Social Security database contained errors that could have cost thousands of legal workers their jobs.
Administration officials said the court battle over the no-match rule, which never went into effect, would now end.
The move to expand the use of E-Verify reflects the Obama administration’s strategy of keeping up the pace of immigration enforcement while weighing whether to push for an overhaul this year that would give legal status to millions of illegal workers, officials said.
But the E-Verify system has also been criticized by immigrant advocacy groups and is facing a challenge in federal court by the United States Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, who say the databases it relies on are also full of errors.
“It’s the wrong move at the wrong time” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, one of the groups that challenged the no-match rule. While welcoming the cancellation of that rule, Ms. Hincapié said errors in the E-Verify system could lead to legal workers, including citizens, being fired in the midst of the recession.
I knew there was a catch, they are looking for the least politically damaging angle on this situation. They could always come back months from now with one or two aggrieved works who say E-verify got it wrong and then kill it.