Last night, Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA/1) offered an amendment to H.R. 2643 - the FY 08 Interior and the Environment. The amendment prohibits funds in the bill from being used to enter into a contract with an entity that does not participate in the basic pilot program in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The amendment fell to a Democrat point of order.
"The American people have sent a clear signal to Congress that they want immigration reform in steps, not comprehensive reform. My amendment is one of those steps. We should lead by example and say that we will not allow employers to do business with the federal government unless you have verified the social security numbers of your employees with the Basic Pilot Program," Congressman Jack Kingston said. "There have been cases that include defense contractors who have been caught with illegal immigrants working at a shipyard in Mississippi, a military base in Georgia, and a contractor who employed illegal aliens to help build a portion of the U.S./Mexico border fence meant to keep illegal aliens out of this country. My amendment is a common sense solution to this problem."
The Basic Pilot Program, now called the "Employment Eligibility Verification Program", is a voluntary and free program jointly administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security. It is a way for employers, through the Social Security and DHS databases, to verify the information their newly hired employees have provided on the I-9 form stating they are authorized to work in the U.S
"The success of this program is that 92% of the prospective employees have their social security number verified within seconds of the work authorization. Half of the employers surveyed who use the program have said it is an excellent, good to very good program. And 98% are likely to continue using the program."
Employers must sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) before registering for the program. In Georgia, 554 employers with 3, 825 work sites have signed MOU's as of this month. Georgia has an estimated undocumented immigrant population that is approaching 500,000. It has one of the country's fastest growing illegal immigrant populations.