Saturday, November 3, 2012

Voter ID, Immigration, E-Verify and Identity Theft in SC


Gov. Nikki Haley has signed an executive order directing all of her Cabinet agencies to designate someone to cooperate with state Inspector General Patrick Maley on a new effort to improve the state's cyber-security. She's stated, "State government's fragmented approach to IT security makes South Carolina vulnerable to serious cyber and information breaches."



Anyone who has filed a South Carolina tax return since 1998 should visit  http://www.protectmyid.com/scdor and enter the code "scdor123" to enroll in one year of credit monitoring provided by Experian. You need to click the button that says "Click to redeem your activation code" instead of pressing enter. Or, call 1-866-578-5422 to determine if your information is affected and to enroll in one year of credit monitoring provided by Experian.

The Republican governor said the theft caused her family years of exasperation and harassment from collection agencies. While she never paid the $16,000 fraudulently charged to an inactive card, her credit rating plummeted, causing her to spend more on car and home loans and her credit card interest rates to go up, plus attorney fees.

"It was a 10-year nightmare. It's the reason you've seen me be so passionate," Haley told The Associated Press. "I don't want anybody else to go through what we'd gone through. In all that time, people called and harassed and were hateful on the phone. They didn't care that someone had stolen my identity. That was somebody else's problem."

The state has agreed to pay Experian up to $12 million for taxpayers enrolling in a service that provides a year of credit monitoring. As of Wednesday, 418,000 people had signed up. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., has agreed to provide businesses a credit alert service at no cost to either business owners or the state, for the life of the business, Haley said.

Recent state laws approved in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Texas and South Carolina require residents to provide a valid identification card in order to register to vote. According to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, these new rules will affect more than five million people.

That’s five million people who may not be able to vote in the November election because they do not have an I.D. card. This number consists primarily of minorities, young, elderly, poor and — here’s the kicker — Democrats.

Latino Vote
South Carolina was the state with the biggest Hispanic population growth in the past decade, a jump of nearly 150 percent, according to the 2010 census. Thus far, however, most of the GOP candidates have done little to court the Hispanic vote.

“I don’t think the politicians – and in particular the Republicans – are doing anything to win the vote of the Latino population,” Myriam Torres, a professor at the University of South Carolina, said in an interview this week. “They have this idea or this prejudice – I don’t know which – that the Latino population in South Carolina is a group that doesn’t vote and that is wrong.”

Mitt Romney has touted the backing of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who signed the state’s immigration law, and he has publicized the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who helped author the controversial laws enacted in other states such as Alabama and Arizona.

Amendments to the “South Carolina Illegal Immigration and Reform Act” were signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley on June 27, 2011. The amended law requires all employers to enroll in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system beginning January 1, 2012 and to verify the legal status of all new employees through E-Verify within three business days. Failure to enroll in and use E-Verify to verify new hires will result in probation for the employer or suspension/revocation of the employer’s business licenses.

For many in SC is difficult to foresee what impact will have the 3 millions plus Social Security hacked during elections day, November 6. Also is unclear to determine the impact that will have in the implementation of the E-Verify. The notion that SC government was so worry about some thousands people enter illegally to the state searching for work, then failing to protect millions of identity of its citizenry is making nervous businesses and people in the Palmetto State. What is worse is the fact that the current Governor should know better since she shared her story of being a victim of fraud.

Fallowing a comment made last year about the subject:

by Shankar Narayan, ACLU-WA Legislative Director on Dec 5, 2011

Gov. Chris Gregoire and a group of farm-group representatives recently made headlines when they returned from Washington D.C., where they had sought to persuade Congress to oppose a bill requiring employers to use a system called E-Verify.  In stern words, Gov. Gregoire criticized the measure and its likely detrimental effect on our state’s agriculture industry.

“All we’re going to do is penalize employers.  We’re going to lose jobs, and we don’t have any way to get those jobs back,” she said in a media interview.  “Now why — in this recession, as hard-hit as we are — would we, the state of Washington, support that?”  Gov. Gregoire went so far as to declare an unofficial farm-labor crisis in Washington, particularly within the state’s economically important apple orchards, that she attributed to recent immigration enforcement efforts, including E-Verify.

The governor’s comments raised the profile of a controversial program that has been of great concern to advocates for immigrant and civil rights.  The federal E-Verify system, which is now used by almost 300,000 employers nationally, uses an employee’s Social Security number and immigrant identification information to determine a worker’s eligibility to work in the United States.

Employers enter a prospective employee’s name into an Internet-based system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.  The program then categorizes the worker as authorized or offers a “non-confirmation,” which if not corrected or resolved by the employee, will lead to his or her termination.

It sounds simple in theory.  And don’t we all (or at least many of us) love technological solutions to complex problems?  But in practice, the E-Verify system is badly flawed.  A 2010 report by the Government Accounting Office found that errors in the system led to an estimated 80,000 Americans being denied their legal right to work.

If pending legislation sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) were adopted, every prospective employee would have to be checked against E-Verify’s error-prone system before being hired.  Should E-Verify be made mandatory nationwide, the number of workers erroneously targeted would balloon to an estimated 770,000, with errors having a disproportionate impact on immigrants, including U.S. citizens.  And correcting the database would cause an enormous ripple impact on the Social Security Administration, where the wait for 30% of its cases already exceeds a half-year.

The government mechanism to fix such errors is Kafkaesque.  There is currently no court remedy to force Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fix an error.  Many times those errors are as simple as an incorrect data entry or name change.  But in order to uncover the error, workers have to file letters with different parts of the agency seeking copies of their records.  This cumbersome process often delays employment for months.

Another concern is privacy and identity theft.  E-Verify creates one of the largest and most widely accessible databases ever created in the U.S.  Hundreds of millions of records have been hacked, lost or disclosed in the past decade.  Data breaches are a contributing factor to identity theft and E-Verify is a prime candidate to exacerbate this problem.

Further, E-Verify simply doesn’t work to fulfill its intended purpose.  Another 2010 report, an audit conducted for the government by the research group Westat, found that E-Verify failed to detect workers not allowed to work in the U.S. a whopping 54% of the time.

Opposition to the use of E-Verify is far from limited to the ACLU and kindred organizations.  In late November, Yakima County commissioners voted to not have the county use E-Verify, after they had ordered a review of how best to determine the legal status of workers. In September, an open letter from leaders of Tea Party Nation, Downsize DC, GOProud and other conservative groups called on Congress to reject the bill mandating use of E-Verify.  They cited its creation of a de facto national ID system, its requiring employers to become enforcement agents of the federal government and its job-killing regulatory burden, as well as its violation of the right to work and its invitation to identity theft.

In California, a new state law signed in October prohibits the state, cities and counties from mandating that private employers use E-Verify — a move Washington could emulate.

As a Los Angeles Times editorial put it, mandating E-Verify “wouldn’t provide American businesses with a legal workforce.  It would merely drive millions of undocumented workers further underground, where unscrupulous employers can more easily exploit them.”  And, added the Times, “It could actually cost small-business owners nearly $2.7 billion to implement, according to a Bloomberg News report.

In short, subjecting all working Americans to an untrustworthy data system that puts them at risk of identity theft is not what our troubled economy needs.  And it is not an answer to our ailing immigration system.  That would take comprehensive reform that respects privacy and due process rights.

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