New E-Verify proposal would see addition of biometric data

Senator Chuck Grassley has introduced an E-Verify bill designed to expand the employment verification program nationwide.

The bill, if enacted, would make all employers in the United States participate in E-Verify, with respect to all employees, whether recruited or referred and would enhance the enrollment process through the addition of biometric data such as facial photographs.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. The program compares information from an employee’s “Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9” to data from U.S. government records. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States.

Privacy experts fear that the addition of such biometrics could lead to the creation of a biometric National ID card. Biometrics Research Group, Inc., publisher of BiometricUpdate.com, defines “National ID” or “Civil ID” as a general identifier used by governments to verify a citizen and establish a link of trust in a previous special report.

National or Civil ID is a means for tracking citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents for the purposes of work, taxation, government benefits, health care, and other government-related functions. Examples of this could be for the purposes of document issuance, border management, voter registration or employment background checks.

Typically, National or Civil ID programs are large-scale identity management solutions. The United States, due to its decentralized nature, however has never adopted a national registry and various proposals for National ID programs have been widely and successfully opposed.

It is therefore not surprising that the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization dedicated to “individual liberty, limited government, and free markets” is highly opposed to this initiative. The organization noted in a statement that “such proposals are a threat to Americans’ privacy and a needless expansion of federal government power”.

During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald J. Trump called for the implementation of nationwide E-Verify as measure “to protect jobs for unemployed Americans”. Critics of E-Verify however have raised concerns about privacy, implementation problems and inaccurate data within the E-Verify database that could keep legal immigrants from working.

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