President Bush's Executive Order Imposes Flawed Electronic Verification System On Government Contractors

Naturalized citizens are hardest hit

June 10, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña issued the following statement today on the Executive Order imposing electronic verification on employees of government contractors:

Last Friday’s action by President Bush imposing the experimental Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS) on all federal government contractors constitutes another blow to employers and workers in a worsening economy. Coupled with increased worksite raids, the Bush Administration immigration strategy has produced unprecedented fears among immigrants – legally authorized or not – and produced no winners. Because of the System’s unacceptably high error rate, especially for naturalized United States citizens, many American workers will be denied job opportunities not because they are unauthorized or unqualified, but because they are unable to convince a computer they do not belong on the government’s new “no-work” list.

President Bush, by amending Executive Order 12989, has declared that all federal government contractors must verify their employees’ immigration status with “E-Verify,” a computerized system which relies upon a federal government database plagued with a 4.1% error rate for all workers and up to a 10% error rate for newly naturalized citizens. On top of the inaccurate, out-of-date, and incomplete government record system, the federal government has little control over employer misuse of the system. Twenty years of experience with employer sanctions has increased discrimination and unlawful scrutiny of Latino, Asian American and other workers thought to be foreign because of their name, accent or appearance. Just in the past year, the Department of Labor obtained over $51 million in backpay and benefits from federal contractors for discriminating against over 22,000 of their employees.

President Bush’s description of EEVS as “the best available means to confirm the identity and work eligibility of all employees” ignores its inability to combat identity theft, its susceptibility to false documents, and the federal government’s inability to ensure that employers will use the system correctly. Instead of imposing EEVS, still in its test stage, to over 100,000 federal contractors, the Bush Administration should have taken steps to improve the system and to train America’s employers and workers about how it works.

The Executive Order fails to bring us any closer to fixing the nation’s broken immigration system or meeting the legitimate needs of America’s employers. America’s employers need workers with legal immigration status. America’s workers need a system that will protect their ability to work free of coercion and simply and accurately determine their work authorization. Unauthorized workers who toil in some of the most dangerous and difficult work conditions need an opportunity to obtain legal status.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

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