What: All Issues : Labor Rights : H.R. 2359. Employment Verification Program/Vote to Extend and Expand a 1996 Employment Verification Pilot Program Through 2008. (2003 house Roll Call 570)
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H.R. 2359. Employment Verification Program/Vote to Extend and Expand a 1996 Employment Verification Pilot Program Through 2008.
house Roll Call 570     Oct 28, 2003
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

In 1986, Congress passed and the president signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act which made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire or employ illegal aliens. Under the Act, employers are required to check the identity and work eligibility documents of all new employees. In the view of Conservatives, however, the document-based verification approach was not effective because some illegal aliens obtained counterfeit documents and were able to skirt the 1986 Act. To strengthen employers' ability to verify the identities of their employees, Congress created a six-state pilot program in 1996 which allowed employers in those six states to crosscheck the Social Security and alien identification numbers which were submitted by recently-hired employees with databases maintained by the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Services to verify an employee's eligibility for employment. Conservatives viewed the 1996 employment verification approach as a tremendous success and, on this vote, sought to extend and expand the pilot program to all states through 2008 (the program was due to expire in 2003). This vote was a motion to suspend House rules and adopt the employment verification extension and expansion. When the Speaker of the House calls up a measure under suspension of the rules, debate is shut off, no amendments to the measure are allowed, and a two-thirds majority vote is required to pass the legislation (given the two-thirds requirement for passage, House leaders often reserve the suspensions process for non-controversial items). Progressives opposed the measure based on privacy concerns. In their view, extending the pilot program to every state would effectively create a national identification program with few if any privacy protections and could be used by the federal government to track its citizens. Progressives also cited a U.S. Department of Justice study which concluded that flaws in the pilot program-such as inaccurate and/or outdated immigration databases-would seriously impede its successful implementation on a national level. On a vote of 231-170, the motion to suspend House rules failed to attract the necessary two-thirds majority vote for passage and the extension of the 1996 employment verification program was rejected.

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