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American Meat Institute Calls Upon Congress to Fix and Mandate `E-Verify' Employment Verification System

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today urged Congress to pass legislation that would enhance and mandate E-Verify, an electronic employment verification tool voluntarily used by some employers to determine the work eligibility of new hires. 

 “An employment verification program is like an immunization initiative:  it only works effectively if implemented across the board.  When applied in patchwork fashion as it has been, the system is vulnerable,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle in a letter to Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Ranking Member John Cornyn (R-TX). “We believe it is in the national interest – and in the interest of all employers – that this program become routine, not just a program used by a fraction of businesses.” 

The program enables employers to check online to help ensure through Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases that a newly hired person’s employment documents are valid.  Unfortunately, the current system fails to provide a fail-safe mechanism to detect identity theft when an imposter uses another person’s name and social security number.  E-Verify cannot determine whether the person presenting a valid name and social security number is the person to whom the card belongs.  As a result, law abiding employers often end up hiring unauthorized workers even though they complied with the law, the letter states.

In AMI’s view, Congress must act to improve the E-Verify program and address the problems inherent with identity theft.  The number of documents that can be presented at the hiring point must be reduced and a biometric element must be incorporated into the program to enable employers to determine if documents presented relate to the individual presenting them.

Given its long-standing experience with employment verification programs, AMI also said it believes that Congress should mandate E-Verify for employers, phasing in universal participation over several years to better enable the government to administer the program, and launching the biometric component directed at eliminating identity theft on a pilot voluntary basis.

The meat industry was one of the earliest adopters of E-Verify in 1997, when it was only available as a “pilot program” in a handful of states.  AMI and its members fought to make E-Verify available on a voluntary basis to all employers in all states.  Since it became available, E-Verify has been embraced by the vast majority of meat companies in the United States.

 To read the letter, go to: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/52136.


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