Archive for the “ID Theft” Category

NY Times

Fresh Direct, the online grocery delivery operation that caters to affluent and overworked New Yorkers, lost dozens of employees this week after federal immigration officials notified the company that its employee records were under investigation.

The company sent its workers a memo on Sunday and Monday saying that Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to inspect the records of every employee and asked them to update their information and provide documents, like Social Security cards, to prove employment eligibility. At least 40 warehouse workers who could not produce proof that they were authorized to work in the United States quit or were suspended.

At the company?s warehouse in Long Island City, Queens, the work force, largely immigrants (they mean illegal aliens), reacted with panic and distress as news of the inquiry spread.

?Some people just walked out the door,? said Sandy Pope, president of a Teamsters local that is one of two unions competing to organize the workers. ?They were sobbing, with garbage bags full of their clothes from their lockers. They didn?t feel they had any chance of fixing their paperwork, so they just left.?

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Washington Times

The revised children’s health insurance bill that Congress is about to send to President Bush still has loopholes that both illegal aliens and ineligible legal immigrants could exploit to join the program, a new Heritage Foundation analysis shows.

Under the bill, those applying for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program would not have to prove citizenship. Instead, they only would have to provide a valid Social Security number ? something most legal immigrants and many illegal aliens already have, said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, whose analysis is being released today.

‘If you’re illegal, you’re going to have to come with a valid but bogus Social Security number. If you’re a legal permanent resident, you have a Social Security number, it’s just a piece of cake for you to walk in,’ Mr. Rector said.

He said the SCHIP bill that Congress passed would undo the 1996 welfare policy that restricted most public benefits to legal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years. The new bill doesn’t change that requirement, but only requires states to ask for a Social Security number, which Mr. Rector said means ineligible immigrants could sign up.

‘You couldn’t be clearer in their saying, ‘We really don’t care about that five-year time period,’ ‘ he said.

Illegal aliens who have stolen a valid Social Security number could also join, he said.

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NY Times

The Bush administration will suspend its legal defense of a new rule issued in August to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, conceding a hard-fought opening round in a court battle over a central measure in its strategy to curb illegal immigration, according to government papers filed late Friday in federal court.

Instead, the administration plans to revise the rule to try to meet concerns raised by a federal judge and issue it again by late March, hoping to pass court scrutiny on the second try. The rule would have forced employers to fire workers within 90 days if their Social Security information could not be verified.

The legal challenge was brought by an odd-fellow alliance of labor unions and business groups, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the San Francisco Labor Council as well as the United States Chamber of Commerce.

?It?s clear the government has given up defending an indefensible rule,? said Lucas Guttentag, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, another group bringing the lawsuit. ?But now they?re hoping to rush through another half-baked rule without addressing the fundamental flaws. It?s like putting lipstick on Frankenstein.?

The rule laid out procedures for employers to follow after receiving a notice from the Social Security Administration, known as a no-match letter, advising that an employee?s identity information did not match the agency?s records.

The employer would have had to fire an employee who could not provide verifiable information within 90 days, or face the risk of prosecution for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. Those immigrants often present fake Social Security numbers when applying for jobs.

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Billings Gazette

KALISPELL - An El Salvadoran who was in the United States illegally has been sentenced to eight years in prison for using a false identity to receive government benefits.

Tomas D. Ramirez, 44, was ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution for federal and state student aid and food stamps he received illegally.

He was told he would be deported again upon completion of his sentence.

Ramirez has a criminal record in the United States dating back 20 years, with convictions for burglary and theft in Napa County, Calif., in 1987.

He was deported, but re-entered the United States using a different name and was later convicted of drug trafficking in Portland, Ore.

Between August 2000 and March 2006, Ramirez was arrested on 10 different occasions, with charges including three DUIs, drug possession and eluding a police officer.

Ramirez was found to be using a false identity when the man whose identity he had stolen applied for college financial aid and learned there were already some loans and grants in his name.

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“Very nice!”

KATU

HILLSBORO, Ore. - A college student from Washington County could be deported after trying to renew her driver’s license at a local DMV.

Alejandra Trujillo, 20, went to the Tanasbourne DMV office on Friday.

When a DMV worker asked her for identification, authorities say she handed over a fake Social Security card. The DMV worker called police and they arrested Trujillo.

Lt. Mike Rouches of the Hillsboro Police department said “at that point he [the officer] had probable cause to arrest her for the crime of criminal possession of a forged instrument.”

Wednesday evening, supporters of Trujillo picketed outside the Washington County jail where she was being held. They said it is not fair to deport her to a country she has not lived in since she was 8 years old.

Officers say Trujillo told them she did not remember where she got the card. She said that her parents had her real Social Security card and wouldn’t give it to her.

She also reportedly told police that they told her the Social Security number was valid.

Trujillo also reportedly told jail deputies she was born in Mexico.

Trujillo’s college counselor, Brenda Maldondo, said “There needs to be some kind of policy that helps these citizens achieve their own dreams and I think that it?s unjust that we don?t have that yet in place.”

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Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) ? Oscar Ayala-Cornejo followed the path that leads many red-blooded Americans to law enforcement.

His family lived next to a crack house in Milwaukee, where he says he often heard gunshots and came home to find thieves had stolen the things that his father had worked hard to provide for his mother, older brother and sister.

So he got excited when two officers visited his high school to recruit police aides. The doe-eyed 15-year-old decided he wanted to become a cop, maybe make things a little better than he had it growing up.

“I wanted to change my neighborhood, to change other people’s neighborhoods, so they could feel safe, you know,” says Ayala, now 25. “Because I didn’t feel safe.”

He wanted that, it turns out, badly enough to break the law.

Though Ayala’s family moved to Wisconsin in 1992 from Guadalajara, Mexico, he says he didn’t realize until after he’d made up his mind to wear a badge that he was in the country illegally. He didn’t know it until his father, Salvador, told him that if he wanted to be an officer, he would have to go back to Mexico and apply for citizenship, a process that can take at least 10 years.

Ayala cried and soon his father, mother and brother wept, too.

A few days later, his father found another option ? one that would help Ayala get his dream job, but also would take it away and could cost him his freedom.

His father’s cousin, Carmen, who lived in Chicago, would allow Ayala to take the identity of her son, Jose Morales, who was born five months after Ayala in Illinois and died of stomach cancer when he was about 7.

“That was the only option we had if we wanted to stay together,” Ayala told The Associated Press recently.

Before his junior year, Ayala ? calling himself Morales ? switched high schools. The 16-year-old cut his hair, replaced his glasses with contacts and got braces.

In public, he called his parents aunt and uncle and his brother and sister cousins.

It wasn’t easy adjusting to a new name and birthday. But the toughest part was not identifying his mami and papi in front of others.

“That really hurt,” he says. “Those are my parents.”

He was nervous that his true identity would be discovered when he applied to be a police aide at 17, but he had also established a work history at two clothing stores and an electronics store.

After he graduated in 2001, he entered the police aide program and stopped looking over his shoulder.

“Everybody at work, people at school, everyone I met would call me Jose so eventually that was me,” he says. “Besides my family, no one else called me Oscar.”

He became an officer in December 2004, about 10 months after his father died of leukemia. Eventually, he worked in the same district as his brother, Alex, a fellow officer who was born in the U.S.

And he found it rewarding.

Ayala and his partner once took a knife from a suicidal man on Christmas, he says. Another time, he found a 2-year-old boy walking alone and went door to door until he found his parents. He was helping people, and doing it by the book ? except for his secret.

Ayala says he never told anyone about his true identity. But on Feb. 20, an anonymous caller informed Special Agent Russell Dykema of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that officer Jose Morales was really Oscar Ayala-Cornejo, an illegal immigrant.

Dykema spent more than two months comparing data in immigration databases and school records. He even compared yearbook photos.

Ayala was arrested May 31 by two sergeants who took him to the training academy and eventually the immigration office with shackles and handcuffs, where Dykema and another agent explained what they knew.

“I thought I was going to retire and live happily ever after, pay my taxes and all,” he says. “It didn’t cross my mind at all … not until that moment.”

He sat in jail for a few days, his mind racing: “Who told? Why are they doing this to me? What will happen next? What will happen to my family? How long will I be here? Will someone know I’m a cop in here? What would my father think?”

When he couldn’t answer the questions, he started sobbing.

Ayala was charged with falsely representing himself to be a citizen. Two weeks later he agreed to a plea deal.

He could get a year in a federal prison when he is sentenced Monday, or he could get probation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson said Ayala’s position gave him access to weapons and confidential information, although there was no indication he had abused either privilege.

“When our identity systems lack integrity it’s a serious issue,” ICE spokesman Tim Counts said. “It’s a community safety issue. It’s a national security issue.”

No one from the Milwaukee Police Department is commenting because Ayala is no longer employed there.

His brother likely will be out of a job soon, too.

Alex Ayala-Cornejo, who had worked at the department for five years, was fired in September for withholding information about his brother. He’s appealing.

Oscar Ayala once wondered who the informant was and what the motives were. He didn’t think he had an enemy.

Now, he accepts the consequences.

After he leaves prison, he will be permanently deported. His girlfriend of a year plans to follow him to Mexico.

“The cards that we were dealt just weren’t the best ones,” he said. “If I wouldn’t have done this, I would still be in Mexico waiting to see if I could ever see my family.”

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Washington Times

A Casa Furniture and Bedding store in Alexandria has been advertising easy credit with a twist: â??no gringo papersâ? necessary.

A sign outside the store at the intersection of North Beauregard and King streets reads, â??Credito sin papeles de gringo.â? In English, that could be translated to say â??Credit without gringo papers.â?

Blanca Granados, the store’s assistant manager, translated the message to mean â??just ‘without white papers,’ like Social Security or like that.â?

Miss Granados said the store requires customers who purchase furniture on credit to fill out an application and provide personal documentation. The store will accept a passport as identification.

â??Some people say, ‘You know, I don’t have a Social Security,’ â? Miss Granados said. â??They can show their passport if they don’t have any other papers.â?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word gringo as â??a disparaging term for a foreigner in Latin America, especially an American or English person.â?

But the word â??gringoâ? in the store’s sign is not intended to offend anyone, Miss Granados said.

Casa Furniture and Bedding operates 10 stores in the region. Miss Granados said she was not sure how long the sign has been displayed at the store in the 4600 block of King Street.

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Security issues coalesce at insecure O’Hare
Daily Herald
November 11, 2007

People who have flown regularly since Sept. 11, 2001, often roll their eyes at the notion that asking grandmothers to remove their tennis shoes somehow makes their flights more safe.

And despite increasingly tougher travel requirements, including passports where driver’s licenses used to do, knowledge of growing and rampant identity theft has left more than a few questioning the efficacy of efforts to tighten entry points.

The cynical or the realistic, depending on one’s point of view, have always questioned the notion that the nation’s inability to control its borders brought only an illegal work force, and no real threat.

This week, all those issues coalesced at O’Hare International Airport, where Chicago, state and federal authorities arrested 23 illegal immigrants who worked for Ideal Staffing Solutions Inc. of Bensenville. They stand accused of using fake IDs in critical and supposedly secure areas of the airport.

Mary Gurin, 36, of Carpentersville, was among two Ideal employees charged with a federal count of harboring illegal aliens and of misuse of Social Security numbers. Federal officials said she knowingly hired an illegal alien and signed that employee’s security badge.

Her involvement is likely to fuel more heated debate in Carpentersville, where illegal immigration has ignited raucous debate over the past year. And it is likely to heighten the conflict between the federal government and the state of Illinois, which has banned employers from using electronic services to help assure legal employees. As but one example of the fallout, Elgin has had to stop using Basic Pilot, which it had used to verify the legality of its work force.

Beyond those broader issues, though, it is far more critical to note that authorities said 110 of 134 security badges issued Ideal employees by the airport aviation department did not match the people who carried them. That suggests a security problem that goes well beyond Ideal, the legality of its employees and the legitimacy of the paperwork that led to their employment.

That people are wandering around in critical areas of the airport without IDs that match their faces and names certainly suggests airport security is a sieve, if not a laughingstock.

“If we are to ensure public safety, we must know who has access to the secure areas of the airports,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the arrests. A view obvious to everybody but those responsible for security, apparently.

Certainly, security must start with verified, legal employees on whom background checks have been run. But it cannot end until every checkpoint at the airport is a place where entrance will be denied unless names, faces and cards match with certainty.

Until such basic security is addressed, any official at any level who suggests the nation is safe ought to be run from the room in disgrace.

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Oh, don’t worry! It’s just a scam where illegal immigrants got fake passes to work in secure areas at Chicago’s International Airport. Illegal foreigners, using fake documents to get jobs in highly sensitive areas at the airport. Not too bad right? Insanity rules!! GuardDog

25 arrested after O’Hare security breaches
ABC 7 Chicago
November 8, 2007


More than two dozen people will appear in court today after being charged with using fake security badges to work in critical areas of O’Hare Airport.

Immigration officials announced Wednesday that 25 people have been arrested after an eight-month federal investigation. Two of those people — who work for Ideal Staffing Solutions in Bensenville — face federal charges.

Mary Gurin and Norinye Benitez are accused of helping the illegal immigrants get the jobs and badges. The two defendants allegedly provided undocumented workers with deactivated airport security badges issued in other names. That allowed those workers to bypass the security screening system in place at O’Hare Airport.

The 23 suspects are going to start facing state charges Thursday.

“Government can’t be too vigilant when it comes to airport employees gaining access to secure areas, especially if they lie about their identities, and we have no idea who they are or what their true intentions may be,” said Elissa Brown, special agent-in-charge.

“We can have no tolerance for people who set up businesses for people with fake identities to have access to secure areas of the airport,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney, Northern District of Illinois.

Twenty-five people are now in custody. According to the feds, 23 of them are in this country illegally. The legal proceedings began Wednesday afternoon at the federal court in downtown Chicago.

The state attorney’s office in Cook County told ABC7 that they are still trying to execute some arrest warrants and are still looking for 81 other people.

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Washington Post

Chertoff had announced earlier that the department would waive the original May 2008 deadline and set a new target of 2013 for getting all 245 million US driver’s licenses to comply with a national standard.

Now, the department may extend the original deadline by a decade, to 2018 for drivers older than 40 or 50 to reduce the costs associated with a projected surge of customers at state motor vehicle departments, the officials said.

In a recent meeting, Richard Barth, a Homeland Security policy official, told state officials to expect Real ID’s price tag to fall by ‘billions of dollars’ as the department eases previous demands that the new licenses be renewed every five years, that expensive, tamper-resistant materials be used to create the ID cards, and each state develop its own document verification systems, those officials said.

Eight states have passed legislation to opt out of the program, nine others have passed resolutions in opposition, and more will consider doing so this winter. Massachusetts officials are among the state leaders who have urged Congress to overturn the law.

‘DHS is doing back flips in order to get states to say they are complying with Real ID,’ Sparapani said. ‘It was flawed in principle from the beginning, and DHS is attempting a ‘Hail Mary’ pass to try to coerce and convince states that what they are doing under existing statutes is acceptable.’

In 2005, Congress passed legislation mandating Real ID to standardize information that must be included on licenses, including a digital photograph, a signature, and machine-readable features such as a bar code.

Under the law, states also must verify applicants’ citizenship status, check identity documents such as birth certificates, and cross-check information with other states and with Social Security, immigration, and State Department databases.

The new licenses must include features to thwart forgery and fraud, and drivers born after 1935 will have to present birth certificates or passports to obtain them.

Read the entire article here.

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Joe Gimse
Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Wilmar

Stillwater Courier

Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Wilmar, said heâ??d like to see Minnesota offer worker ID cards to illegal immigrants.

Doing so would allow â??hard-workingâ? undocumented immigrants who are already living here to get â??out of the shadowsâ? and work at businesses that need, and want, them.

The Willmar Republican said employer-sponsored identification cards would remove the â??criminal aspectâ? of being here to work.

It would also reduce identity theft because illegal immigrants could use their own identity to get a job legitimately while they work toward becoming legal citizens.

â??Theyâ??re working hard in our state and we need them here,â? Gimse said. â??My hope is that this eliminates a lot of the need for illegal activity.â?

Gimse, who met privately with community leaders last month in Willmar to discuss immigration issues, said he was shocked with the amount of identity theft that happens when illegal immigrants try to get jobs here.

Making worker IDs available would â??stop the aggravated forgery, the ID theft and the related problems that go along with it because these people just want to come here work,â? Gimse said.

He said businesses are â??doing everything they can to make good hiring decisionsâ? but forged documents are â??so sophisticatedâ? that itâ??s difficult to tell the fake ones from the real ones.

Gimse said if employers question documents, or donâ??t hire someone because they question the legitimacy of documents, they can be scrutinized for racial profiling. â??Theyâ??re between a rock and a hard spot.â?

Under his plan, undocumented workers could use the IDs to get a job, obtain a driverâ??s license and be given two years to become legal citizens. If the state had worker IDs, Gimse said he would support the Dream Act that would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state rates to attend state colleges and universities.

In response to critics who say illegal immigrants should be deported, Gimse said there is â??no practical method of rounding them up and sending them back.â? And besides, said Gimse, immigrants are a â??valuable asset and a valuable part of our community.â?

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El Paso Times

Athens, GA (AP) — A federal jury has awarded $415,000 to two former poultry plant employees who were fired for complaining about fraud, hiring discrimination and other abuses by supervisors.

The U.S. District Court jury found that ConAgra Poultry Co.â??later bought by Pittsburg, Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.â??fired the women in September 2003 after they blew the whistle on an assistant to the human resources manager who made a fake Social Security card for an illegal immigrant who worked a side job for the plant’s general manager.

The panel also found that the manager’s assistant authorized falsified insurance coverage so another employee could claim his sister and nephewâ??also illegal immigrantsâ??as dependents on his health plan.

In a decision Tuesday, the jury awarded Scarlet Reyna and Maria Ortega a combined $415,000 for lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional pain and mental anguish. They worked in the human resources department of the poultry plant in northern Clarke County.

The case was among the first of its kind to go to trial since Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which provides protection for whistleblowers, plaintiffs’ attorney John F. Beasley Jr. said.

‘Ms. Reyna and Ms. Ortega are very courageous women,’ Beasley said Thursday. ‘They were loyal to the company but refused to tolerate racial hostility and dishonesty by their supervisors.’

Attorneys for ConAgra and Pilgrim’s Pride did not return telephone calls from The Athens Banner-Herald seeking comment. Spokespeople for Pilgrim’s Pride did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for comment Friday.

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BND.com

ST. LOUIS — A man who accidentally drove his SUV into an outdoor dining area of a Clayton restaurant - leaving three diners injured - now faces federal charges for being in the country illegally.

In fact, authorities said Friday that Sergio Lopez-Luna, 23, has twice previously been deported to Mexico.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said Lopez-Luna was indicted late Thursday. He is accused of using a false Social Security number and falsely representing himself as a U.S. citizen to get a job at a restaurant. The indictment said Lopez-Luna has been back in the U.S. since at least 2004.

If convicted, Hanaway said Lopez-Luna could face up to five years on each charge, though sentencing standards call for considerably less jail time. After serving his sentence, he’ll almost certainly be deported for a third time, Hanaway said.

Lopez-Luna was being detained and was unavailable for comment. He did not yet have an attorney.

In September, Lopez-Luna was driving a Ford Expedition in Clayton when he lost control, crossed a sidewalk and drove into a sunken outdoor dining area at Il Vicino restaurant. Two of the injured diners were treated at a hospital and released. One, 54-year-old Kathryn Travaglini, was hospitalized. Lopez-Luna has not been charged with a crime related to the accident.

Hanaway said her office sees, on average, about one felony indictment per week against suspects who are in the country illegally.

“Unfortunately, it’s very common,” she said.

That’s on top of hundreds of St. Louis-area cases of deportations annually involving illegal immigrants who are not accused of local crimes, said James Ward, who heads the St. Louis office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

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USA daily

Republican Presidential candidate and Congressman, Tom Tancredo, announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would overturn a recent federal court ruling preventing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from sending “no-match” letters to potential employers of illegal aliens.

The letters would be sent to employers that have employees that have submitted fake or incorrect social security numbers. The agency was prepared to send 8.7 million letters prior to the preliminary injunction.

“Congress must take out the legs from underneath the court’s misguided ruling with legislation,” said Tancredo. “By giving DHS direct authority from Congress to send out the no-match letters, the court would be hard pressed to find another excuse to prevent DHS from enforcing our immigration laws.”

The federal district court judge, Charles Breyer of San Francisco, ruled earlier this week that DHS had exceeded its authority in issuing new no-match letters to employers.

The new letters require employers to verify employee Social Security Numbers and submit new paperwork to DHS. If the employer still refuses to do anything about potentially illegal employees within 90 days, DHS’ new rule says that he may be held criminally liable.

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“The state of Illinois has now made it illegal to comply with federal law,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in an interview. “That’s not acceptable as a matter of the Constitution, and it’s not acceptable as a matter of our discharging our federal obligation to enforce the immigration laws.”

U.S. sues Illinois for blocking immigration crackdown
Chicago Tribune
September 24, 2007

WASHINGTON - Department of Homeland Security officials, saying that Illinois is complicating their efforts to reduce illegal immigration, have sued the state to overturn an Illinois law that virtually blocks employers from taking part in a program designed to verify whether new employees are legally entitled to work in the U.S.

“The state of Illinois has now made it illegal to comply with federal law,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in an interview. “That’s not acceptable as a matter of the Constitution, and it’s not acceptable as a matter of our discharging our federal obligation to enforce the immigration laws.”

In an unusually personal critique, Chertoff said the Illinois law, the Right to Privacy at Work Act, showcases the hypocrisy of politicians who slam the federal government for not enforcing immigration laws, then make it harder to do so.

“We’re beginning to see the schizophrenic nature of the way some politicians are looking at it,” Chertoff said. “They’re now coming back and saying, ‘We want you to enforce the law, but we don’t want you to do anything that would actually lead to enforcement. … So that the idea is we’re going to get on the record saying we want you enforce it then we’re going to make sure you can’t enforce it.”

The high profile taken by the department in filing the lawsuit in federal court in Springfieldâ??calling attention to it through press releases and having Chertoff speak outâ??suggests Homeland Security is sending a warning to other states and municipalities that may be considering a law like the one in Illinois.

The lawsuit is the first Homeland Security has filed against a state as part of a voluntary federal program called E-Verify.

The program allows employers to provide the federal government identity information permitting immigration officials to confirm whether would-be workers can be legally employed.

Homeland Security says as of the end of August, 22,205 employers were taking part in what is called its Basic Pilot Program, sending in 2.9 million queries.

According to the agency’s lawsuit, about 93 percent of such queries are answered either immediately or the next day. The rest are categorized as “tentative non-confirmations.”

A worker can decide not to contest the non-confirmation, but if he does choose to contest the response, Homeland Security will further investigate the matter, a process that can take a week or longer.

That’s where the Illinois law comes in. It says that until Homeland Security can conduct 99 percent of such investigations and return the final results within three days, it’s illegal for businesses operating in Illinois to participate in the E-Verify program.

Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswomen for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said two laws were passed “to protect employees from unfair treatment under the federal government’s flawed Basic Pilot Program……

To read entire article click here.

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