NW Senators Wary of E-Verify Program

By Tom Bacon

Most of the political thunder and lightning in the Senate debate over immigration reform has been on the issue of border security.
But a couple of northwest senators of both parties are worried about an unintended consequence of the bill - creation of a nationwide identity database that could easily be abused by federal and state governments.
 
Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo and Montana Democrat Jon Tester want to guard against the immigration law setting up a national searchable database of photographs and personal information -  a backdoor national I-D system.

The immigration reform bill would expand the use of E-Verify, the national pilot program meant to ensure that prospective workers are eligible to be hired. The Crapo-Tester proposed amendment to the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to ditch driver's license photos once the employment verification is completed.

Without strict controls, Crapo said, the DHS could easily set up a national database, the harbinger of a national ID system. The amendment would also prohibit any governmental department, bureau or agency from using the information derived from an identity verification.

Whether the Crapo-Tester amendment will be cleared for a vote in the Senate is iffy. Majority leader Harry Reid plans to hold a final vote this week, and so far, only nine proposed amendments out of hundreds submitted have been voted on.

The E-Verify system was set up a decade ago, but state enforcement of it has been spotty. In Washington, local governments have the power to set up their own verification rules for employers.
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