Pres­i­dent hit over jobs for il­le­gal work­ers; gov­ern­ments among cul­prits

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Stephen Di­nan

If Pres­i­dent Bush is se­ri­ous about get­ting tough on U.S. em­ploy­ers who hire il­le­gal aliens, he can start with his own ad­min­is­tra­tion, which em­ploys thou­sands of unau­tho­rized work­ers, says the top Repub­li­can on the House im­mi­gra­tion sub­com­mit­tee.

A 2006 au­dit showed fed­eral, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments are among the big­gest em­ploy­ers of the half-mil­lion per­sons in the U.S. il­le­gally us­ing “non-work” So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers — num­bers is­sued legally, but with spe­cific in­struc­tions that the hold­ers are not au­tho­rized to work in the U.S.

“Let’s clean up our own house, let’s es­pe­cially clean up the fed­eral em­ploy­ment of all those work­ing for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment,” said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Repub­li­can and rank­ing mem­ber of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee’s im­mi­gra­tion sub­com­mit­tee.

The So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion used to, but no longer does, is­sue non-work num­bers to le­gal aliens who were not au­tho­rized to work but needed a num­ber to ob- tain a fed­eral or state ben­e­fit or ser­vice. Still, hun­dreds of thou­sands of those im­mi­grants used the num­bers to get a job.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2006 au­dit by the So­cial Se­cu­rity in­spec­tor gen­eral, 17 of the 100 worst em­ploy­ers us­ing em­ploy­ees with non­work num­bers were gov­ern­ment agen­cies: seven fed­eral agen­cies, seven state agen­cies and three lo­cal gov­ern­ments. That means the gov­ern­ment knows who those em­ploy­ees are, but usu­ally does not go af­ter them.

Ear­lier this month, Home­land Se­cu­rity and Com­merce de­part­ments an­nounced a new crack­down on il­le­gal en­try that in­cludes stricter en­force­ment against em­ploy­ers. The de­part­ments said they will en­cour­age busi­nesses to use E-Ver­ify to check em­ploy­ees’ So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, and said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will write new rules re­quir­ing all private con­trac­tors and ven­dors that do busi­ness with it to use E-Ver­ify.

Un­der cur­rent law, nei­ther busi­ness nor fed­eral agen­cies are re­quired to use E-Ver­ify, for­merly known as the Ba­sic Pilot Pro­gram.

Mr. King said the ad­min­is­tra- tion shouldn’t wait for new rules to be­gin check­ing fed­eral em­ploy­ees against the non-work list.

“There’s a lot more they can do, but the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s at least got to run their non-work So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers against their own em­ployee data­base, and then they’ve got to re­quire states to do that, and lo­cal gov­ern­ments to do that,” he said.

The prob­lem is broader than just fed­eral hir­ing. The latest fig­ures from the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­ported in March, found 521,426 non-work So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers had earn­ings cred­ited to them for work done in 2005 and cred­ited dur­ing cal­en­dar year 2006.

So­cial Se­cu­rity pro­vides a list of those num­bers to Home­land Se­cu­rity ev­ery year, but the de­part­ment has been re­luc­tant to use them for en­force­ment, ar­gu­ing to Congress in tes­ti­mony last year it would take a sig­nif­i­cant amount of re­sources and could dis­tract from na­tional se­cu­rity pri­or­i­ties. Home­land Se­cu­rity also says a high per­cent­age of the non-work num­bers turn out to be cler­i­cal er­rors or work­ers who later ob­tained au­tho­riza­tion.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral says those cases do oc­cur, but more of­ten than not — about 60 per­cent of the time — the em­ploy­ees are in fact not au­tho­rized to work in the U.S. The au­dit said for gov­ern­ment agen­cies, the per­cent­age is slightly lower: 44 per­cent of the gov­ern­ment work­ers iden­ti­fied in their sam­ple were unau­tho­rized for em­ploy­ment in the U.S. The in­spec­tor gen­eral did not name the 100 worst em­ploy­ers on its list.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral said as long as work­ers are us­ing in­valid num­bers, home­land se­cur ity is threat­ened, and said telling em­ploy­ers di­rectly about em­ploy­ees us­ing in­valid num­bers could help stem the flow of il­le­gal work­ers.

In a sam­ple of 275 in­di­vid­u­als us­ing non-work num­bers, the in­spec­tor gen­eral found two were found to have war­rants for de­por­ta­tion al­ready lodged against them. The in­spec­tor gen­eral said it for­warded that in­for­ma­tion to Home­land Se­cu­rity for ac­tion.

Mean­while, Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and pres­i­den­tial hope­ful, says Mr. Bush is fall­ing be­hind on con­struc­tion of the U.S.-Mex­ico border fence that he signed into law last year.

In a let­ter to the pres­i­dent, Mr. Hunter said just 17.9 miles of the new dou­ble-tier fenc­ing has been con­structed as of Aug. 10 — putting the ad­min­is­tra­tion off the pace he said it needs to build 392 miles by May 30. All told, he said the fence is sup­posed to reach 854 miles which, be­cause of the re­gion’s ge­og­ra­phy, will seal off about 700 miles of the U.S.-Mex­ico border.

The Wash­ing­ton Times re­ported ear­lier this month the U.S. Border Pa­trol sent out a memo call­ing for agents to vol­un­teer to help build fenc­ing be­cause they are go­ing to fall short of their goal.

Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the White House, said they are try­ing to se­cure the border by adding Border Pa­trol agents and ve­hi­cle bar­ri­ers. He said there are 100 miles of fenc­ing on the border, and they want a to­tal of 145 miles by Septem­ber, though those fig­ures in­clude sin­gle-tier fenc­ing and fenc­ing that was built in prior years.

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