Plan targets illegal workers
Many Americans focus on the border when they consider the fight against illegal immigration. But some experts say the real battle should be in the workplace to stop the hiring of people without work visas.
Simple enough in theory, but how can you tell who's an illegal immigrant?
Many companies now do little more than eyeball documents, saying they lack the expertise and resources to go any further - and they seldom face federal sanctions.
But across the country, a small group of businesses is quietly testing a Department of Homeland Security program that can check immigration status with a few clicks on the Internet. The program will likely be at the heart of any federal immigration reform, even as critics say it needs improvement.
"It's not a question of 'can we fix this?' It's 'when and how?"' said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute think tank who specializes in immigration.
Many businesses, however, oppose making the program mandatory because it would stop them from hiring illegal workers and force them to pay higher wages, said Maria Echeveste, an immigration expert and political consultant who worked as a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House.
"I see this as a battle over whether we are going to be hypocrites or not," she said. "If we're not ready to give up cheap labor, then we should shut up about illegal immigrants."
Under the "Basic Pilot Program," employers enter a person's name, birth date and other data on a Web site. The information is then run through databases maintained by the Social Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Employers never learn if the individual might be in the country illegally. They simply get a "yes" or "no" on the person's work status.
Applicants can appeal if they disagree with the results.
The program doesn't include fingerprint or other biometric checks to determine if applicants are using someone else's Social Security number or name. Ideally, the checks would eventually include a photo identification card supplied by the Social Security Administration. But the agency has estimated it could take at least $4 billion to produce such cards.
Companies using the program said the latest version is quicker and easier to use than people might think. But experts caution that it needs tweaks before Congress could roll out a mandatory version nationwide.
Among other things, they worry that it could hurt legal immigrants, whose visa status often changes faster than DHS can update its databases, and who sometimes use the surnames of both parents, which can further trip up the process.
No one has estimated the expense of a nationwide rollout. But expanding the pilot to serve the more than 8 million businesses in the country would cost the government much more than the $1.5 million currently being spent on the program.
Congress will likely consider the issue when it reconvenes Wednesday. All the major immigration bills moving through Washington call for an expanded version of the program.
Knowingly hire illegal workers...and your happy ass goes to jail...
They say: "we checked, they had an ID, we are not ID experts"
Why shouldnt we target them?
clinton chief of staff
"I see this as a battle over whether we are going to be hypocrites or not," she said.
"If we're not ready to give up cheap labor, then we should shut up about illegal immigrants."
it looks like she learned how to talk bs from clinton, I wonder how many cigars they shared
Finally, someone gets it right.