Auditors rip DHS pilot for automating job eligibility checks

Congress' auditing agency today criticized the Homeland Security Department's methods for checking whether a new employee's visa or citizenship status is in order, citing failures in a Citizenship and Immigration Services pilot to automate the process.

The General Accounting Office report, Weaknesses Hinder Employment Verification and Worksite Enforcement Efforts, noted that employers face many difficulties in verifying documents that prospective employees submit to establish their eligibility to work under immigration law.

'The large number and variety of documents acceptable for proving work eligibility have also hindered verification efforts,' according to the report.

GAO cited a CIS project called the Basic Pilot Program, a voluntary project that allows employers to electronically verify work eligibility.

The auditors said the pilot had been hindered by weaknesses, including:

  • Inability to detect identity fraud

  • DHS delays in entering data into its databases

  • employer noncompliance with program rules.

  • 'Furthermore, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials stated that the current Basic Pilot Program may not be able to complete timely verifications if the number of employers using the program significantly increased,' according to GAO.

    GAO called for DHS to speed the approval of new regulations for the employment verification process and urged the department to carry out a detailed study of the Basic Pilot Program's performance. DHS agreed with the auditors' recommendations, according to the report.


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