A workplace employment check tucked inside the Senate’s immigration bill has some concerned it would create a national ID system and another massive database containing the private information of most Americans that is ripe for abuse.
In order to verify an immigrant’s legal status, employers would be allowed to access the databases of drivers’ licenses in individual states through an expanded network created by the Homeland Security Department, The New York Times reports.
“Over time, this could become a single, national, searchable database of vital biographic information and photographs of nearly every American,” said Democrat Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. “I want to make sure we embed privacy protections in the system, both in how it is built and administered so that data cannot easily be stolen, and also that the information is only used for legitimate purposes.”
The concerns for abuse come as the Obama administration wrestles with accusations it has abused the privacy of foreigners and U.S. citizens through access to phone and Internet records.
A spokesman for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida defended the use of an E-Verify system as a needed tool to ensure American workers are legal citizens.
“The system we currently have is full of fraud and contributes to illegal immigration,” said spokesman Alex Conant. “This proposed system protects individual civil liberties while giving employers the tools to make sure their employees are legal.”