WASHINGTON, June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- By majority vote the United States Commission on Civil Rights ("Commission"), has issued letters to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights; U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices; and U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. The letters urge each agency to review the Commission's Nebraska State Advisory Committee Advisory Memorandum, "Civil Rights and State-Level Immigration Enforcement in Nebraska." The Commission also recommends that each agency investigates Nebraska's (2009) Legislative Bill 403 for potential disparate impact on the basis of race, color, and national origin. The letters and Memorandum can be viewed here: http://www.usccr.gov/correspd/PR_Letters_StateLevelImmigration.pdf .
In 2015, the Nebraska Advisory Committee to the Commission ("Committee") voted to undertake a study of Nebraska's 2009 Legislative Bill 403 (LB 403). LB 403 requires that State agencies and their political subdivisions verify the lawful presence of applicants before providing federal, state, or local public benefits. It also requires that State agencies and their political subdivisions verify the work eligibility status of all employees hired after October 1, 2009, through the use of the electronic federal employment verification system known as "E-Verify."
The Committee found that discrepancies in federal verification databases, specifically the E-verify and SAVE systems, may have a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, and national origin. Data entry errors, some as a result of cultural differences, including the use of hyphenated names, can increase the number of inaccurate eligibility determinations. Once an inaccurate eligibility determination is rendered, the burden of correcting the inaccuracy rests solely on the individual affected by the results. Correcting inaccurate information can only be done in person at offices which only exist in the city of Omaha, which may require a 7-hour commute if the affected individual is located in western Nebraska. Though errors may be few, the severity of consequences for not correcting them and the current indications of a disparate impact raise civil rights concerns in need of further study. The Committee also found inconsistencies in how each state agency interprets the terms "qualified alien" and "public benefit," which has resulted in some state agencies adopting definitions of "public benefit" that directly conflict with federal law.
The Commission urges the named agencies with regulatory authority to investigate the impact of LB 403 on equal employment opportunity, access to federally supported health care services – focusing particularly on programs and services exempted from immigration status verification under federal law, and access to federally supported education programs. The Commission also recommends that all SAVE database users submit clear written guidelines, for review to USCIS, regarding how SAVE data will be used by each benefits issuing agency to ensure consistent application of the system.
Commission Chairman Martin R. Castro on behalf of a majority of the Commission stated, "E-verify continues to result in some erroneous conclusions, identifying persons eligible to work, as ineligible. E-verify and SAVE, implemented as called for in the Nebraska laws, could sanction the unlawful denial of benefits and employment to Nebraskans on the basis of race, color and national origin. The federal government must look into this to ensure that neither Nebraska nor other states rely on a system that may perpetuate discrimination."
For more information about the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, visit http://www.usccr.gov.
Media Contact: Gerson Gomez
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-commission-on-civil-rights-issues-letters-to-federal-agencies-recommending-investigations-into-nebraskas-2009-legislative-bill-403-for-potential-disparate-impact-on-the-basis-of-race-color-and-national-origin-300289539.html
SOURCE U.S. Commission on Civil Rights