Advocates say ID verification rule could hurt legal immigrants
Associated Press Writer
DENVER (AP) ” Immigrant-rights groups asked the federal government Wednesday not to tell employers about a new rule requiring them to verify workers’ Social Security numbers, saying errors in a government database could focus unwarranted suspicion on legal immigrants.
The new nationwide rule, adopted by the federal Homeland Security Department, could go into effect Oct. 1 if a judge overturns an injunction blocking the new rule.
The injunction, issued by a federal judge in San Francisco, was sought by the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“This is going to create incredible havoc,” said Gabriela C. Flora of the American Friends Service Committee, one of the advocacy groups.
Flora said an estimated 17 million Social Security Administration records nationwide contain errors that could result in legal immigrants being singled out for additional verification that could take 90 days or more.
Mark Hinkle, spokesman for the Social Security Administration, said his agency is obeying the injunction until a hearing is held Oct. 1.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Flora said employers fearing legal trouble might refuse to hire people who they suspect might not be legal residents based only on their appearance. She said people who already have jobs might lose them if the errors in the database trigger special verification, and workers in the process of finalizing their immigration status might not get hired.
She also said the rule would force Social Security officials into an improper role.
“It makes the Social Security Administration into immigration enforcement, and that’s not was the Social Security Administration is supposed to do,” she said.
Meanwhile, attorneys prepared to go to federal court Thursday in a lawsuit filed by the state demanding the federal government enforce immigration laws.
Referendum K, approved by voters in November, directed Attorney General John Suthers to file the suit.
Suthers said similar lawsuits filed by other states have failed, but the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “changed the way we must look at border security and whether the federal government is meeting its constitutional obligations.”
The suit says Congress and the executive branch have acknowledged the threat of terrorism but haven’t taken adequate steps in response.
U.S. Attorney Troy Eid asked a federal court judge to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds the state does not have the authority to sue on behalf of residents, and that it would interfere with the authority of the political branches of government to regulate immigration.
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