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Several groups have advocated against making the system mandatory. They have argued that the database on which the system is based is filled with errors.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have expressed concerned that requiring E-Verify would result in the creation of the largest ever database of sensitive personal information in the U.S. Even Obama himself last year described E-Verify as error-prone and said it could not be used as an immigration enforcement tool until problems were resolved.
Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel at the ACLU, today reiterated concerns over the latest immigration proposals.
A tamper-resistant Social Security card with a biometric identifier is both expensive and impractical, Calabrese said. "We see this as being enormously costly," he said, arguing that implementation will be a challenge as well because it will require tens of millions of American workers to get fingerprinted and have their birth certificates vetted.
It's also inevitable that such a card will eventually become a "permission slip" that will be required not just for employment but for a myriad other purposes, Calabrese maintained.
Similarly, the problem with E-Verify continues to be its error rates, he added. Even with an error rate of just 1%, it generates far too many false results to be used on a mandatory basis, he said.
According to Calabrese, a more effective way to deal with illegal immigration is to enforce existing laws much better.
Meanwhile, other groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies, The Heritage Foundation and the Federation for American Immigration Reform have insisted that concerns about cost, privacy and errors are overblown. They insist that the number of workers being wrongly identified by E-Verify as being ineligible or eligible to work in the U.S. is a tiny fraction of the checks conducted each year by employers.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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