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Iowa Immigration Law Blog: Fraudulently-Used SSNs Can Now Be "Locked" - November 19, 2013

In an update that addresses one glaring gap in E-Verify, USCIS has announced that Social Security numbers that are used fraudulently (stolen, borrowed or purchased from someone else) will be “locked” in the system, generating a tentative non-confirmation (TNC).

E-Verify has long been criticized because if the SSN provided belongs to a real person, no TNC was generated. Thus, even employers, such as the former Swift & Co. meat packing plants, that used E-Verify ended up employing unauthorized workers. Swift & Co. was the subject of a highly-publicized and financially-devastating immigration raid*.

If the enhancement works, it will assist employers in identifying potential unauthorized workers, while still allowing the person that is subject of the TNC to continue employment. When a TNC is received, E-Verify rules require that the employer provide the worker with the option to challenge the TNC and continue working. The employ would then go the SSA office to sort out the matter. If the employee timely challenges the TNC, she may continue to work until a final non-confirmation is received. (If the matter is successfully sorted, a verification will be issued).

Of course, the software enhancement will undoubtedly have some “false positives” (those that are allowed to work will have to go to SSA) and some “false negatives” (those that are not allowed to work will get through the system).

Uninformed employers sometimes terminate employment when a TNC is issued, which is against the rules but can be hard for some workers to challenge (such as those that are not familiar with the U.S. legal system or do not have a strong command of English).

Remember that E-Verify is still not mandatory except in certain States for certain employers, or for certain federal government contractors.  However, the immigration reform law passed by the Senate would mandate it on a rolling basis.

Also, E-Verify “self-check” is now available so you can see if your information is accurate in the system.

Although the author is still not a fan of E-Verify, if we are going to insist on using such a system, it is better if it is thorough.

*For one account of the Swift & Co. raid history, click here. We make no claims about the accuracy of this account, but it provides a jumping-off place for further research if you are interested. The author has her own bad memories of what is known in Iowa as the “Marshalltown Raid”.