Homeland security official wants records of 'guest workers' to be evaluated

| 12/16/2004

According to the Congressional Quarterly’s mid-day report of Dec. 15, the top candidate for homeland security chief, Asa Hutchinson, wants a system set up to keep close tabs on temporary foreign workers. Hutchinson is currently Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security at the Department of Homeland Security.

“As President Bush prepares to renew a push for a guest-worker program, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is recommending that Congress order the department to vet the names of temporary foreign workers against federal records,” reported Congressional Quarterly.

Hutchinson said Congress could set up a mandatory vetting, or evaluation, process modeled on a voluntary pilot program created in 1996 to help companies avoid hiring illegal immigrants. Under that program, employers can log on to a secure government Web site to screen all new hires – citizens and non-citizens – by checking names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other data against federal records. According to CQ, participation is voluntary.

“The program allows employers who want to follow the rules to be able to do so. It does not do anything for those people who do not care to play by the rules right now,” a DHS spokesman told CQ.