SHRM Lobbies Oklahoma in Support of Biometrics

SHRM headed to Oklahoma Monday to encourage small business owners to lobby their congressional delegation in support of the immigration reform bill. the organization is supporting.  The measure would require employees and applicants to prove their identity to employers by providing biometric information, and would strengthen penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, among other provisions. Bob Carragher, manager of government relations for the Society for Human Resource Management, was among those speaking to Oklahoma small business owners at the annual Small Business Day At The Capitol event.

Currently, Oklahoma’s law mandates the use of E-Verify system, available online. According to Mr. Carragher, in 2006, when government officials raided six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants, they discovered hundreds of illegal immigrants working for the company. But Carragher said all those employees’ information had been checked through E-Verify. The proposed legislation — which gives me the willies given its various implications — would not let that happen, according to SHRM.  I happened to be passing through Tulsa yesterday and discussed this with several businessmen who were as skeptical as I am about the proposal.

The one thing I agree with is regarding the use of a TRUE "biometric identifier" — such as the thumbprint SHRM wants — to confirm identity and work authorization.  ICE’s current "photo tool" is a complete sham, dressing up increased employer liability via the subjective review of photos (which do not "metric" anything "bio" save a truly prominent shnaz or ears at best) as "biometric."  DON’T USE THE PHOTO TOOL, GUYS!  All it does is increase employer risk as it is currently configured!

The SHRM proposal is so filled with problems that the likelihood of passage is virtually nil: to me it is notable that the leading HR organization would create proposed legislation so utterly disconnected with a meaningful resolution of the basic problems of privacy and  other core constitutional issues.  But, then again, we aren’t exactly seeing anything "meaningful" from anyone as far as this issue, are we?