In the meantime, a variation on last week's theme: the rights of immigrants. Our own Rebecca Gasca has some thoughts on comprehensive immigration reform from an ACLU perspective. In 3...2...1...
Most Americans would agree that our immigration system is in tatters. Here at the ACLU of Nevada, we support responsible and comprehensive reforms to U.S. immigration policy that protects the civil liberties of everyone- regardless of their immigration status.
Last year, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced legislation that proposed many meaningful reforms to the immigration system. However, it fell short from our perspective in two ways: it did not extend the same protections to lesbian and gay couples as their heterosexual counterparts, and it required the implementation of a privacy-invading electronic employment verification system (that even the US Government admits is flawed) for all workers (not just immigrants).
More recently, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced their own framework for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), which includes, among other things, mandatory biometric Social Security cards for all Americans.
The ACLU, however, views both biometric Social Security cards and electronic employment verification systems as attacks on our constitutionally-protected right to privacy. Both would essentially require every worker, including US citizens, to obtain a “permission slip” from the federal government in order to work. They are costly, invasive, and are thinly veiled disguises of systems that lay the groundwork for a comprehensive national identification card.
We have also long opposed mandatory electronic verification systems for privacy reasons and for their adverse impact the error-filled records in government databases would have on all workers. On these grounds during our 2009 legislative session, the ACLU of Nevada submitted written testimony and testified against Assembly Bill 431, which would have required some employers to verify the immigration status of workers before hiring them.
As civil libertarians, we believe that a comprehensive solution does for this problem does exist- but it can’t come at the price of cherished fundamental liberties and privacy protections.
Rebecca Gasca is the Public Advocate for the ACLU of Nevada