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Poll Shows Strong Doubts About Effectiveness of Federal Employment Verification System
Date:2/28/2008

79 Percent of Americans Favor Use of Biometrics in Employment Verification Process

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies today released results of a national poll assessing public opinion on employment verification as a tool for stemming illegal immigration.

In roughly equal proportions, Americans view securing the border (34 percent) and preventing the hiring of illegal immigrants (32 percent) as top methods for stopping illegal immigration.

The new poll also suggests that Americans are looking for improvements over the current systems for verifying citizenship and residency, which they see as flawed. Americans respond strongly to arguments that the Federal government's current "E-Verify" employment verification system, is vulnerable to identity theft because people can easily obtain authentic documents that do not belong to them. Nearly three quarters, 73 percent, express "serious" or "very serious" doubts about E-Verify when presented with this argument. When informed that E-Verify relies on a government database with a 4 percent error rate, which could mean as many as 6 million citizens and other legal employees could be wrongfully denied employment, 59 percent express serious or very serious doubts about the E-Verify system.

As a means to correct the shortcomings of the current employment verification process, a large majority of Americans (79 percent) favor incorporating the use of a biometric identifier, such as a thumb print, as a method for preventing fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other identity documents - tactics commonly used as a means of obtaining a job illegally.

"The public is receptive to the use of biometrics in verification of employment eligibility," said Mark Feierstein of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. "We found that some Americans already use biometrics in their current jobs, to ensure security in financial transactions and to ease travel. Many Americans see biometrics as a potentially effective method for preventing identity theft and as a valuable tool for preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining jobs."

The poll also found that Americans overwhelmingly support a mandatory national employment verification system, with 85 percent citing it as a somewhat or very important characteristic of a system to make sure that only legal workers get jobs. Support for liability protection for employers participating in a government employment verification system also draws wide support, with 91 percent agreeing that such a system should also provide protection from liability for the employer who uses the system properly.

The national survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,045 adults, conducted January 10-16, 2008. The results are subject to a margin of sampling error of approximately plus or minus three percent. The survey was conducted on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Detailed results of the poll are available at http://www.legal-workforce.org.


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SOURCE Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public OpinionStrategies
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