Immigration Reform: There’s Only One You


The very popular children’s book “Only One You” teaches the lesson of diversity and accepting others as unique individuals. So what does a children’s book have to do with immigration reform?

Well….at an early age children are taught that they are unique individuals, taken for who they are at face value.  However, in today’s modern age of technology having to verify one’s identity is becoming a common practice.

“So what’s the big deal”, you ask, since we can all confirm our respective identity through our social security number, driver’s license, passport, etc.  The problem is this: technological advances have made these documents susceptible to theft, forgery and alteration, and cannot be verified for authenticity.  Hence, identity theft is on the rise. 

The issue of identity authentication is especially important to the HR profession.  For those of us who are not immigration attorneys let’s recap: federal law requires employers to examine documents presented by new hires to verify identity and work eligibility in the United States (and to attest to that examination on the Form I-9).  To comply with the law, some employers use a voluntary web-based system called “E-Verify”, to check the legal status of workers.

So the real issue at hand for HR pros is this – if an employer inadvertently employs a person who is not authorized to work in the United States and used identity fraud to secure employment, the employer could face criminal and civil penalties!

Now, don’t get me wrong, employers are not going around looking to hire individuals who are not work authorized.  Employers usually make a good faith effort to ensure that their employees are legally permitted to work in the country. Good faith efforts include checking social security numbers and making sure the numbers are valid.  Therein lies a major flaw in the E-Verify system. While E-Verify does a great job confirming work authorization using the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases it does not authenticate a person’s identity.  In other words, E-Verify lacks sufficient security features to protect employers from persons using fraudulent identities to gain employment. 

To support the HR profession and to provide modern tools to employers so they can be certain that they are hiring a legal workforce, SHRM and its affiliate the Council for Global Immigration are encouraging Congress to embrace tools that will help combat against identity theft.

Employment opportunities are the gateway for migrants that enter the U.S.  At the risk of sounding patriotic, our country is the most coveted because the American dream is a story of immigration and diversity. We are a unique nation because there is really Only One You!






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