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AZ Labor Leader: No E-Verify Extension Without Protections

March 5, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Every Arizona employer is required to check new hires through the federal E-Verify system, but the law creating E-Verify expires on Friday. State AFL-CIO director Rebekah Friend is against renewing the law unless workers get more protection when their name and social security number don't match.

"There should be an adequate period of time to respond to that, and you should be able to request that the number be run again or corrected or looked at, to ensure that the data that's given is accurate. You're talking about somebody's income."

Currently, employees have eight days to provide Social Security with documents proving their identity, or they are terminated. State law requires Arizona employers to screen all new workers through E-Verify. Supporters consider it an effective means of reducing illegal immigration.

Friend also would like the law amended to stop employers from using E-Verify against existing workers who are trying to organize.

"We have seen it used in an organizing campaign where it was used to harass, where they decided to do just a blanket E-Verify out of the blue and then use it to screen out people."

The government says 99 percent of those checked through E-Verify are okayed, but Friend says if even one eligible worker is mistakenly denied a job, it's too many.

"When you're talking about somebody's ability to earn a living, especially in these economic times, you're talking about a very severe impact to someone if the information is erroneous. I think you have to put in safeguards to protect those people."

A bill to extend the E-Verify law is currently in the U.S. Senate. Congress is expected to continue E-Verify at least through September.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ