Lately it seems the media has been teeming with stories on the backlash in states that have introduced legislation requiring employers to use a maligned federal database to verify a worker’s social security number.
In the past year or so, more and more states are contemplating or have already implemented legislation that compels employers to verify work authorization using the federal electronic verification program, called E-verify.
This week alone media reports on opposition to the forced use of the E-verify system included California, Texas, Arizona and Kansas. Employers in Oregon are also rallying against proposed regulations targeting undocumented workers.
These state forays into immigration issues are coming on the heels of a controversial federal regulation issued by DHS that similarly requires employers to either resolve social security mismatches or fire the employee to avoid the risk of being prosecuted for hiring unauthorized workers.
Labor unions and immigrant rights groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court in California challenging the DHS regulation.
The state laws, such as Arizona’s, are also being challenged in court as unconstitutional.
Critics of the social security verification requirements at both the state and federal level say the federal social security database is error prone, and forcing employers to rely on it will lead to the discrimination of any foreign looking prospective new hire, including U.S. citizens.
The Sacramento Bee reports that 70 percent of social security number discrepancies involve U.S. citizens and stem from database errors.
Other arguments against these state laws raise the issue of federal preemption. Immigration matters have traditionally been reserved for federal regulation.
For background on the federal law and its related lawsuit, see our other articles Calif. Court Blocks New Social Security “No Match” Rule and DHS To Revise Controversial Social Security No Match Regulation In Response To Lawsuit.