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Proposed federal immigration law causes privacy concerns

For many people who hope to live in North Carolina or any of the country's other 49 states, the immigration procedures by with non-residents may gain citizenship are of the utmost importance in U.S. immigration law. Additionally, others who hope to undergo naturalization in order to join their family members here in the United States are anxious to see how family-based immigration will be impacted. For some politicians, however, the details of the proposed federal immigration bill pose significant threats to the rights of individuals currently living within the country.

Part of the proposed federal bill allows the Department of Homeland Security to create a networked database that enables the pictures and information of all American drivers' licenses to be accessible to it. While the Department of Homeland Security indicates that the system, called E-Verify, would not be a single database but rather a system by which the department could access the information from the individual states and other federal offices, some federal politicians fear that the system may be vulnerable to privacy and security threats.

Proponents of the provision state that such a system is necessary to prevent fraud by non-residents who hope to gain employment in the country. By requiring employers to authenticate the credentials of applicants through the E-Verify system would prevent non-residents from gaining employment opportunities illegally. Objectors note that it is unlikely the system would maintain its limited use of only screening for legal employees and like Social Security numbers would be used for more detailed identification objectives by other government agencies.

As debate continues to swirl around the proposed federal immigration reform bill, details such as the employment identification provision will begin to emerge and sway public opinion for or against the proposed law's terms. While the federal legislature has yet to vote on the bill, its passage may have significance for individuals living legally within the country as well as those hoping to gain legal status.

Source: New York Times, "Fears of National ID With Immigration Bill," Eric Lipton, June 15, 2013

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