The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing yesterday on Document Fraud in Employment Authorization and How an E-Verify Requirement Can Help.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) made a statement during the hearing about the growth of the underground market for fraudulent identification documents as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which requires employers to check the immigration status of an employee.
"Fake documents, which can be obtained cheaply and are produced by the millions, have made a mockery of these identification requirements," Smith stated.
Smith blamed both employees and employers for the dishonesty in document fraud. A dishonest employee giving false documentation to an honest employer who has no choice but to accept it or dishonest employers who provide or encourage counterfeit documentation to pay lower wages and exploit illegal immigrant workers.
Smith used E-Verify as a solution to these problems, stating that it is run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in conjunction with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
"Through E-Verify, the Social Security numbers and alien identification numbers of new hires are checked against SSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases in order to help employers determine who is eligible to work in the U.S. As this Subcommittee has heard in testimony many times, E-Verify is free, quick and easy to use," Smith said.
Smith mentioned his bill The Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 2885, which requires a nationwide mandatory E-Verify, would strengthen E-Verify when it came to identity theft.
"H.R. 2885, the 'Legal Workforce Act,' a bipartisan bill that was approved by the Judiciary Committee last September, gives USCIS and SSA additional tools to help recognize and prevent identity theft," said Smith. "For instance, the bill requires DHS to allow individuals to 'lock' their own Social Security number so that it cannot be used by impostors to verify work eligibility."
"It also requires USCIS to 'lock' a Social Security Number that shows a pattern of unusual multiple use. And it imposes significant criminal penalties on employers and employees who engage in or aid identity theft," said Smith. "In addition, H.R. 2885 requires individuals who have likely been victims of identity theft for work authorization purposes to be notified of that likelihood so they can then take steps to prevent further illegal use of their identity."
Smith made the point that E-Verify is an electronic system that will keep up with the pace of today's technology.
"With today’s technology, it makes no sense to use a paper-based error-prone system when a successful web-based option is available," Smith said. "It’s time to bring our I-9 system into the 21st century."
"American jobs and identities could easily be protected by simply requiring all employers to use E-Verify and by improving E-Verify to help close the identity theft loophole," Smith said.
The Immigration Subcommittee members listened to the testimony of Jennifer Andrushko, whose 5-year-old son has had his identity stolen by an illegal alien for the purpose of gaining employment in the U.S.
Click here to read Jennifer Andrushko's full testimony.
The subcommittee members also listened to the testimony of Dr. Ronald Mortensen, Ph.D., who is a former Foreign Service Officer and current fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, who has researched the topic of identity theft by illegal aliens for employment purposes.
Click here to read Dr. Ronald Mortensen's full testimony.
Read Chairman Smith's full statement here.
Updated: Thu, Apr 19th 2012 @ 10:10pm EDT