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The ICE-man cometh… Gaming the SSA.

 The situation U.S. employers now face regarding hiring is bearing the legal onus to the question, “Is this person allowed to legally work in the United States?”

The United States  Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has now fully implemented (commenced in 2011) an online services program in which one can immediately check his/her immigration work status, such site under the law enforcement jurisdiction of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).   The program Self-Check allows an individual to review his information and research the  information that federal agencies such as the SSA, Homeland Security, USCIS

Self-Check comes on the heels of regulation being pushed by legislators that requires  all employers to verify the immigration status of employees via an online program, Verify.  (We have major reservations [still] about E-Verify in that there are so  many ways to get around its confirmation process [as has been reported lately on the use of the SSNs of dead folks by illegal immigrants] and on a more serious note, makes employers a de facto arm of law enforcement is an abhorrent concept.)

To review,  prior to an employee with a potential “glitch” in his employment status applying for a job, (wherein the employer would have to validate his legal standing to work), he can check his own status online by himself.  Within that self-check, s/he can then determine the appropriate corrections necessary, if any. There are enough loop holes in this 2-tiered program to run a circus through.

Step One:  Check hirability.  The answers to the Self-Check questions are based primarily on the address history of the person applying.   Once someone has obtained a SSN or a TIN (taxpayer identification number), running a reverse address check is very easy and often free online.  (We’re not going to tell people how to do it but given our experience, take our word for it that acquiring address histories is a cake walk, especially for a determined person.)

Step Two: Establish an E-Verify’d account.  In this portion of the Self-Check process, once an applicant has been given clearance by USCIS as being hirable – via Step One above –  that individual then sets up an E-Verify account in which information will be stored for access by potential employers.   So anyone with an SSN or TIN and birth and address history can legitimize his/her identity.   How do future employers know then who is really showing up for work?  S/he won’t.

The major issue with Self-Check and  E-Verify then is of identity verification.  (Note:   E-Verify claims that in the future, it will  include a photo comparison – courtesy of Homeland Security – but they won’t release the collection data criteria.)  Will the Social Security Administration continue to issue the harder-to-track TINs? Will the IRS verify the jobs held and dates of employment assigned to each SSN? As we found out last week when millions of illegal aliens were discovered to be using the SSNs of dead people, not likely.)

Self-Check and E-Verify are good starts in the effort in removing the unwanted competition between legally hirable employees and undocumented immigrants for work but,  where employers part with these government plans is on the issue of liability.  If a person desires  to “get over” on the system, they will.  If an employer has complied with E-Verify and other hiring regulations (which obviously to date have not really turned out all that well), why should the employer be held responsible to a system in which she had no input in designing?  And the employer will face penalties for hiring errors regardless of compliance with E-Verify. The obvious work facility access requirement – a retinal scan , fingerprint, non-invasive DNA monitor, appears logical  but then we have to consider the “privacy” issues these suggestions will undoubtedly raise.

Trust, but E-Verify.  We’ve reached that point.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

E-Verify, TIN Cans And Why We Are All Boiled Frogs.

Hat tip: Wikiepedia: “The boiling frog story is a widespread anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.

Begin Visual:  Huge pot of cool water placed on a stove top burner that is owned and operated by… Sincerely, Sam (the government).   Several million frogs, dropped unceremoniously but as yet uninjured, into the pot where they are relaxing and enjoying the soothing temperate fluidity of their new environment.

Begin Bulletin:  This week we again (prompted by a recent subject update) take a hard look at  E-Verify, the soon to be nationally mandated Social Security number and personal identification verification service provided by Sincerely, Sam and Dun & Bradstreet.  (The related crossmarketing promotional deal with Joseph E. Banks Mens Suits has apparently fallen through. Excuse the lingually-bored out hole in my face’s cheek but I truly do not understand why Sam has entered, dragging along non-queried or voiced businesses, into an arrangement with Dun & Brad wherein an entity should (flame burner ignited) be listed with D&B to even access the E-verify system.  For established corporate entities, a D&B listing is generally not an issue.  For new and young businesses, never mind the initial monetary outlay for the Dun registry designation, it’s an immediate loss of direct control over one’s commercial credit ratings, reports, listings… Those things are damned hard to correct or repair in the future.)

Brief refresher on the E-Verify service: (Reading guide: All indents are E-Verify written materials.)

U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States – either U.S. citizens, or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization. This diverse workforce contributes greatly to the vibrancy and strength of our economy, but that same strength also attracts unauthorized employment.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use.

So far, so good.  Fast, free and easy to use E-verify will take away any doubts for an employer as to the eligibility of potential hires.  E-verify even comes complete with a facial recognition program,  provided to us by Sam’s recently adopted and extremely hyperactive youngest son, the Department of Homeland Services (DHS).

The next set of rules in E-verify state that all employers must verify potential employees within 3 days of the first day of paid work.   Okay… that seems reasonable unless a) you are Human Resources or b) you’re McDonald’s(One little froggie croakin’, “It’s getting hot in here…”)

You’re diligent and by Day Three, you’ve submitted your latest potential hires’ info for verification to Sam. Sincerely you have.  Below, per E-verify, are the possible results:

In most cases, E-Verify will instantly verify the employee’s work authorization. If E-Verify returns an “Employment Authorized” response, the employer can continue to the last step in the verification process and close the case. (1200 frogs a croakin’.  I’ll address that – not this –  sweet italicized morsel shortly.)

Sometimes, E-Verify cannot immediately confirm the employee’s work authorization and may require the employer or the employee to take action. In these cases, the employer will see one of the following responses on the employee’s verification results screen:

  • DHS Verification in Process: Sometimes, E-Verify’s automated search of government records cannot immediately verify employment authorization, and a manual search is required. In this case, E-Verify will return a “DHS Verification in Process” response.
  • Tentative Nonconfirmation: If the employee information does not match government records, the employer will see a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) response.

The employer must check E-Verify until the employee’s case is updated, which usually happens within 24 hours, though it may take as long as three business days. (I suggest freezing 72 continuous hours in as needed blocks per year to ensure compliance.)  When the employee’s case is updated, E-Verify will return either an “Employment Authorized” or “Tentative Nonconfirmation” response.

“Employee Authorized”.  You’ve passed Go, forfeited well more than $200 and your internal operations privacy (via personnel. hiring and recruitment methods, credit history, etc.,  management…) but you can move on.  However, a TNC and…

There are several types of TNCs, and the type displayed in E-Verify depends on which government agency is involved and the cause for the mismatch:

  • SSA Tentative Nonconfirmation: This response indicates that the employee’s information could not be verified by SSA. The employee must be notified of the TNC response and referred to SSA.
  • DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation: There are two types of “DHS TNCs.” The first type means that DHS was unable to verify employment eligibility and the employee is instructed to call DHS to find out how to resolve the discrepancy. (Does that mean you,the employer, have to issue a written notice to the TNC’d non-employee to call DHS and have him/her sign it  or how exactly does this impertinent little reg get Sam’s sincere green checkmark? More Paper, hotter Water, dying Frogs.)

The second type is caused by a photographic mismatch, meaning the employer indicated that the photograph displayed by E-Verify did not match the photograph on the employee’s document. If the employee contests this type of TNC, the employer must either scan and upload an image of the document or send a copy of the document via express mail at the employer’s expense. (Mo’ money, Mo’ money!)

I keep my promises so we are back to that earlier tasty italicized bit  “<the employer>… must close the case”.  Or what?  No, really. Or what?

Here’s the kicker on verification via SSN.  In 1996, the IRS (Sam’s maladapted and malevolent younger cousin), in camera, resolved a huge issue; what to do with the millions of potential taxpayers from whom they wanted to collect income tax  but could not verify their SSNs?  They decided  no one was looking so they promptly invented and authorized use of TINs.  Taxpayer Identification Numbers.   TINs look like SSNs (9 digits in an NNN-NN-NNN format), few people know the difference (and criteria for assignment/appropriation) and even fewer know of their existence.  (Except for those slithery federal contractors!)  A TIN is issued to an employer who can then substitutes said TIN on requisite tax filings for a worker ineligible (why….?) for an SSN.  When confronted by the IG  (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) on the multiple assignment by said contractors of a single TIN, the IRS declined to make any changes and stated that further analysis is needed.  By next year, 2012, it is predicted (predicated on a 2007 360 million dollar loss via erroneous tax exemptions and credits through TIN abuse) that Sam will lose $1.9 billion along these TIN abuse  lines – in just that year.  Calculator, please.  1996 – 2010.   You, the average employer, will not get a TNC out of a TIN person.  You won’t even know s/he is a TINner.  (A quick key – a  TIN’s middle numbers are always, at least currently, between 70 and 80.) But hey, if Sam’s willing to assume the liability of the verification, why should you care?   Because:

We haven’t noticed the temperature shooting through the roof and we won’t be able to get out of the collective pot in time.  We will have allowed ourselves to become one of Sincerely, Sam’s de facto misguided law enforcement tentacles.  Offensive, why?  Sam and his agency relatives mentioned herein continue to refuse to address intentional taxpayer identification system abuse for which we are paying heavily and even more galling, unnecessarily so.  Who’d give hard-earned money for a kick in the butt, leave alone fifteen years of them??  (Given the current blend of journo entertainment, I’d rephrase the Q but envision it, if you will, literally – and by a sane person.)  This abuse loops into so many other employer and employee concerns. By way of example and topically – healthcare.  Sincerely, Sam and his lineaged same-bent pals can refuse to look at multiple employees using the same Taxpayer Identification Number but will Tom’s Health Insurance, Inc.?  Who is going to get stuck with that bill?   The patient.  And you or I in some direct or indirect manner.   (Tangentially,  the subtext is on the surface. That of politicians and sycophantic media riling up voters on immigration issues in reference to undocumented persons/illegal aliens – choose your own PCness –  who are already here and, many for decades and generations.  Many of these individuals are already in the system so the poli/media gasbags need to give the faux saber rattling a rest and stop inducing additional divisiveness among people.  The matter was decided 15 years ago.)

Between the increasingly voluminous  paperwork (read: out of your payroll), the outlay of verification enablization monies (for employees you may or may not be able to hire, penalties sure to come, insert any reason for Sam to glom on to your wallet…) and the criminally obtuse governmental refusal to stench the free-flowing, aorticly slashed tax exemption/credit/unearned refunds gusher –  good luck, Businesses.

Caution: The explanation attempts on TIN creation (and even definition), usage, abuse and current worker identification verification by the official agencies (SSA, IRS…), open source public info sources (Wikipedia, eHow…) and the  IG’s reports do not connect.  Read what is not there.  To boot, now states and the feds are trying to pass laws that would put the onus on the business owner for employee verifications when it was Sincerely, Sam, the incestuous Uncle, who a) did and will again do the “not nice” to the pooch and b) has yet, according to the IG, to correct the first round of idiotic reform attempts, circa 1996.

BNI operatives: A step ahead.

As always, stay safe.

References:

5 March 2010 IG’s SSA Audit Report (First paragraph, Results of Review Heading)

The U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service’s E-Verify site

Common sense.