May 10, 2010
Last month, UPS workers demonstrated in Chicago after 280 UPS workers were fired for failure to comply with the government’s “E-Verify” requirements.
E-Verify, the government’s computerized system for checking employees for “identity fraud,” is 13 years old. It requires workers to supply documents which the system then matches against Social Security records.
Until recently, employer participation in the system was voluntary, though more than 200,000 companies use it. But last fall, the Obama administration began to require all companies doing business with the federal government to use the system.
The system is notorious for being riddled with errors – immigrants with green cards as well as citizens have been fired, along with documented workers. One woman, who had worked for UPS since 1985, had to show her birth certificate, passport and marriage license daily – all because she married someone with an Hispanic last name.
And what about undocumented workers? Why should they be fired? They do their job, day in and day out, support their families, and are workers like any others. But they are being used by employers and the government as scapegoats for the high unemployment – a high unemployment caused by the bosses’ own economy, which has gone into a deep crisis. In this economic crisis, the government and employers hope to pit workers against workers in all sorts of ways, including the flack over “illegal” immigration. The Obama administration, for example, has declared its intention to increase deportations to 400,000 a year; last year’s deportations already reached 387,000, the highest number in U.S. history, including throughout the Bush years.
E-Verify is just another way to scapegoat some workers, while creating hassles and uncertainty for all workers.