HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett today signed legislation to mandate all public contractors to use the federal E-Verify national identification system. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania criticized the new law, formerly Senate Bill 637, saying that it will deny work to authorized workers and that E-Verify is "the infrastructure of a national ID."
"E-Verify is a flawed program," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "That's why the federal government has yet to mandate it broadly."
E-Verify is an online database program that contains more than 500 million personal records of American citizens and immigrants, including Social Security numbers, visa data, and other personally identifying information. As recently as 2010, E-Verify databases contained erroneous information for 1.2 million citizens and eligible immigrant workers, according to the federal government's own data. The database errors led to 80,000 new employees losing the opportunity for work in 2010.
Under current law, employers in Pennsylvania voluntarily participate in E-Verify. The ACLU of Pennsylvania questioned the ways in which the program could be used in the future.
"Today, E-Verify is used voluntarily by employers," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "In the future, it could easily be converted for use at airports, at banks, and in other daily transactions.
"E-Verify is the start of a national identification system. While the commonwealth cannot dismantle E-Verify, the last thing we should be doing is further cementing its place in daily life."
Ironically, the General Assembly passed and Corbett signed legislation in May to prohibit the implementation of the federal Real ID law. Real ID includes mandates in the issuance of drivers' licenses that has led critics like the ACLU to call it "a de facto national ID."
"The legislature and the governor cannot decide if they do or do not want a national ID," Hoover said.