House Immigration Bill Places Onus on Employers

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, Dec. 6, 2005

The House Republican immigration-enforcement bill will include a measure aimed directly at ensuring that employers are taking steps to hire legal workers—going a step further than the White House has gone in targeting businesses.

The bill, which Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin is expected to introduce today, calls on employers to check documents submitted by new employees against a database to verify their authenticity.

“This is the one thing you can really do that really will work,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican who has been fighting for the provisions for years. “You’re not picking one group of people or another group of people. All you’re doing is checking the validity of a Social Security card—I don’t know how anybody can be against that.”

Named the Basic Pilot Program, it began in the mid-1990s as a voluntary system for employers in a handful of states to check prospective employees’ Social Security numbers. In 2003, it was expanded nationwide, but it is still voluntary. Mr. Sensenbrenner’s bill would make it a requirement.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, who as committee chairman is writing the bill, will call on employers to recheck the documents of all employees hired within the past six years. Mr. Calvert’s version does not.

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