::Immigration Bill To Collect American Info
By Elliott West, Raleigh Chronicle News Editor
Friday, May 18, 2007
WASHINGTON DC - Although a new immigration bill that was passed by the United State Senate last year chiefly addresses illegal immigration, some components of the bill will definitely benefit the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies by tracking all sources of wages and compensation by American workers, even those who are legally American citizens.
The Immigration Bill Status
The controversial Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 was already passed by the Senate in late April of 2006 and another version of the bill could soon be voted on by the full Congress if a deal is reached among legislators.
Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz) announced on May 17th that a Senate agreement to push the bill again had been reached, after efforts last year failed. Both NC Senator Richard Burr (R) and Elizabeth Dole (R) voted against the much-debated bill last year.
The then-Republican controlled House did not follow up on the Senate version passed last year, since many opposed the illegal immigrant amnesty provisions of the bill. Some political pundits say the immigration reform act will be hard pressed to gain passage in the House again this year despite a change in party control.
It should be noted that if members of the House and Senate modify the bill through a compromise, some text of the final bill passed by both houses may change.
However, as it stands, the bill would make it illegal to hire anyone for any work in the US for paid wages, unless both the worker and employer complete the new registration requirements, including providing the employee's work history for the past five years even if they are American citizens each time they apply for a job.
"It is unlawful for an employer...to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an individual unless such employer meets the requirements of subsections (c) and (d)," says the bill referring to the new document rules and "electronic verification" systems.
The new $400 million "employment verification" component of the extensive bill would add new electronic registration requirements for all American citizens who do work for compensation and even American employers as well.
As it stands, the new bill would require all employers to "register" with the federal government and report the data for new employees to the government within three days of hiring them.
As such, the bill would fill in one of the last gaps in the government's tracking of wages, by making it a potential criminal or civil offense not to inform the government that a worker is receiving compensation of some sort, under the rubric of national security.
According to Section 274A of the version of the bill passed by the Senate in 2006, no employer would be exempt from having to register with the government and also having to verify the status of each of their new employees. The new requirements would go into effect 18 months after the electronic verification system has been created.
"The Secretary shall require all employers in the United States to participate in the System," says the text of the bill.
Collecting Data On US Workers
Although future details may change, even hiring your neighbor's kid Johnny to mow your lawn could become a long and detailed process and if you didn't follow the rules, you could get a knock at your door from Homeland Security.
First, you would have to register as a employer under the program and then call a 1-800 number with several items of information about the potential new employee (even if they have proper ID or an American passport).
Each time an employer hires someone, they would have to phone in (1) their own EIN or social security number if they are an individual (2) the social security number of the new employee (3) the state of birth of the new employee (4) the EIN number or social security number of every single place the new employee has worked in the last five years (5) and the date of birth and address for the potential new employee.
Then you'll need to wait up to 10 days to receive an answer about whether or not Johnny is approved for work in the US.
Be sure to save the authorization codes given to you by the government if he is approved and also save all of the paperwork for three years or you could have to pay a large fine.
Even if you hired him for only one day's worth of work, you'll need to save his application forms and approval codes for at least one year, says the bill.
And don't forget, under the new proposals, be prepared to give Johnny your own social security number so that he can use it the next time he applies for a job -- he'll need it under the new law for the next five years each time he applies for a job.
That provision will certainly help the government in making sure that they know not only where he worked this year, but everywhere else he has worked too.
Hopefully, no one that you hire will steal your identity in the process even though they have your social security number.
All of the information is to be housed in a database created by the Social Security Administration that will be shared with the Department of Homeland Security, which has the authority to initiate investigations into all employers who don't participate in the system, including those who pay Johnny to mow their lawn.
The Department of Homeland Security can receive "taxpayer identity information of each person [from a report which]...contains evidence of such person's failure to register and participate in the Electronic Employment Verification System."
As such, they can initiate an investigation into any person who doesn't comply with the mandatory electronic reporting system whether they are an employer or employee.
In a similar version of the bill seen in 2005, Homeland Security would have been able to investigate any employee unlucky enough to have two different companies call in with the same social security number. However, it seems that in the new version, it was realized that some people actually have more than one job as that text has been eliminated.
Of course, the government will only use the information for its intended purpose -- to stop illegal workers from getting jobs.
"The System shall collect and maintain only the minimum data necessary to facilitate the successful operation of the System," says the bill's text.
However, as stated earlier, a provision in the bill indicates that other branches of the government may benefit from the new database as well.
"Nothing...may be construed to limit the collection, maintenance, or use of data by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue or the Commissioner of Social Security as provided by law," says the proposed law.
As seen before in Washington DC, there may be collection of data for a stated purpose -- in this case to fight illegal immigration -- but it seems evident that the opportunity to collect of data on US citizens is not going to be passed up.
If the bill passes, the most basic and private personal information about where American citizens work, their past work history, their birthdays and social security numbers will be called in to the government every time they apply for a job. ::
Editor's Note: This article was corrected to include a more detailed explanation of where the bill now stands in Congress was added and to clarify that the Senate version of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 was passed in late April of 2006.