Number: 109-15
Date: June 22, 2006

Senate Passes S. 2611
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006

On May 25, 2006 the Senate passed with amendments S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, by a vote of 62-36. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Specter (R-PA) on April 7, 2006. The House passed an immigration reform bill, H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239–182 (see Legislative Bulletin 109-10). The next likely action is a House-Senate Conference.

S. 2611 as passed by the Senate has the following provisions of interest to SSA:

Title III (Section 301) Unlawful Employment of Aliens

  • Would make it unlawful for an employer to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, or continue to employ, an alien for employment in the United States knowing, or with reckless disregard, that the alien is unauthorized to work.

Document Verification Requirements
  • Would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) with respect to documents that establish identity. Specifically, it would require an employer to attest that he or she has verified the identity and eligibility for employment of the individual by examining the following documents:

    • For citizens, either a U.S. passport or state-issued driver’s license;
    • For aliens, either a permanent resident card or an employment authorization card; and,
    • In the case where an individual cannot obtain any of these documents, the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) can authorize the use of other documents provided that they include a photograph of the individual or other identifying information and contain security features.
  • Would require employers to retain copies of documents related to attestations, verifications and any correspondence relating to an employee’s identity or employment eligibility.

National Identification Cards
  • Would not authorize the issuance or establishment of a national identification card.

Electronic Employment Verification System
  • Would require the Secretary, in cooperation with the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner), to implement an employment verification system (System) to determine whether an individual’s identity and employment eligibility is consistent with the information in SSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records.

  • Would require every employer to submit employee data for new hires to the System beginning 18 months after the Secretary receives not less than $400,000,000 to implement the System.

  • Would allow the Secretary to permit employers to participate in the System on a voluntary basis prior to implementation of mandatory participation. In addition, would allow the Secretary to require employers to verify previously hired and new hires based on an assessment of homeland security or national security needs or if the Secretary has reasonable cause to believe the employer has violated immigration laws.

Design and Operation of the System
  • The System would be designed to:

    • Respond to employers’ inquiries through the Internet or other electronic media, or over a toll-free telephone line;
    • Maintain records of each inquiry made; and,
    • Provide a confirmation or, after secondary manual verification, a tentative nonconfirmation of individuals’ identity and employment eligibility within ten working days of the employer’s initial inquiry.
  • Would require the Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner, to establish procedures to permit individuals to contact the appropriate Agency to correct or update the information used by the System or to verify his or her own employment eligibility prior to obtaining or changing employment.

  • Would require the Secretary to develop the tentative or final nonconfirmation notices that would include, among other information, contact information for the appropriate agency and instructions for contesting such notices.

  • Would require the Secretary and the Commissioner to develop an administrative review process that would allow employees terminated from employment as a result of a final nonconfirmation to request an administrative review not later than 60 days after termination.

  • Would limit the use of the data obtained or maintained by the System, except that such limitation would not apply to the collection, maintenance or use of data by the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue or Social Security as provided by law.

  • Would authorize the Secretary to modify the requirements of the System after notifying Congress and the public.

  • Would require the Comptroller General to audit the accuracy, efficiency, integrity and impact of the System; and assess the effect of the System on privacy; the effect of the System on unauthorized aliens; the effect of the System on discrimination in hiring; and whether DHS and SSA have the resources needed to operate the System.

Government Contracts, Grants, and Agreements
  • Would bar employers from obtaining a Federal government contract, grant or agreement or would debar employers currently holding for five years if the Secretary determines the employer is a repeat violator or has been convicted under this section.

Repeal of Basic Pilot Program
  • Would repeal the Basic Pilot Program by repealing sections 401, 402, 403, 404, and 405 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-208; 8 U.S.C. 1324a). In addition, would repeal the reports on earnings of aliens not authorized to work required by section 414 of that law, including the report to Congress and the report to the DHS.

Amendments to the Social Security Act
  • Would amend the Social Security Act to require the Commissioner to establish a reliable, secure method to provide through the System a determination of whether the name, date of birth, employer identification number and Social Security number (SSN) submitted in the employer’s initial inquiry is consistent with Social Security’s records. In addition, the Commissioner must provide information with respect to the citizenship status associated with such name and SSN, whether the name and number belong to an individual who is deceased, whether the name and number is blocked under procedures established by the Commissioner to prevent the fraudulent or other misuse of the SSN.

  • Would require the Commissioner, in order to prevent the fraudulent or other misuse of SSNs, to establish procedures under which an individual who has been assigned an SSN may block under the System and remove the block of such number.

  • Would require the Commissioner, to the maximum extent practicable, to assign SSNs to aliens who are authorized to work in the United States through enumeration procedures administered jointly by the Commissioner and the Secretaries of State and DHS.

Disclosure of Certain Taxpayer Identity Information
  • Would amend section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permit the Commissioner, upon written request by the Secretary, to disclose for restricted purposes the following information:

    • Information about employers who have submitted tax information with more than 100 names and SSNs that do not match SSA records or who have submitted more than 10 W-2 forms with identical SSNs;
    • Information about employers with employees who appear to be using identical SSNs;
    • Information about employers who are not using the System as required and information about all employees hired after the date such non-participating employers were required to use the System;
    • Information about all employees of employers required by the Secretary to participate in the System prior to mandatory participation; and,
    • Information about employers participating in the System, and all of their employees hired during the period beginning with the later of 1) the date the employer began participating, or 2) the date of the request immediately preceding the most recent request, and ending with the date of the most recent request.
  • Would require the Commissioner to prescribe a reasonable fee schedule for furnishing such information and to collect such fees in advance from DHS.

  • Effective with disclosures made after the date of enactment. Would not apply to any request made three years after enactment.

Limitation on Verification Responsibilities of Commissioner of Social Security
  • Would authorize SSA to perform activities with respect to carrying out this Title, but only to the extent that DHS had provided funds in advance for such activities. This section would prohibit using funds from the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund or the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund to carry out such activities.

Effective Dates
  • Unless otherwise noted, the provisions set forth under Title III take effect 180 days after enactment.

Title IV Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Reform

  • Would establish new visa categories, including the H-2C temporary nonimmigrant workers (cap of 200,000) and a special category for widows and orphans, among others, effective 18 months after the date $400,000,000 is made available to DHS to implement the System with respect to aliens who, on that date, are outside the United States.

  • Would require the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and State and the Commissioner, to develop and implement a program, referred to as the “Alien Employment Management System” to manage and track the employment of certain aliens. Would be effective one year after the date of enactment with regard to aliens who, on that date, are in the foreign country where they maintain residence.

  • Would require aliens admitted as H-2C immigrants applying for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status to submit at least two documents to establish current employment. Records maintained by SSA could be used for this purpose.

Title V Backlog Reduction

  • Would reduce the visa backlog by increasing the annual caps for family- sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, and immigrants with certain advanced degrees.

  • Would establish new student visa categories.

  • Would allow certain students to engage in off-campus employment not related to the aliens’ field of study if they meet certain criteria.

  • Would be effective upon enactment.

Title VI Work Authorization and Legalization of Undocumented Individuals

Subtitle A—Access to Earned Adjustment and Mandatory Departure and Reentry

  • Would authorize certain undocumented individuals currently in the United States to apply for adjustment to permanent resident status. Such applicants would be required to submit at least two documents to establish current employment. Records maintained by SSA could be used for this purpose. Would require DHS to publish regulations to implement this section not later than 120 days after enactment.

  • Would require certain aliens, who have been present in the United States since January 7, 2004, applying for deferred mandatory departure, to submit evidence of employment. Records maintained by SSA could be used for this purpose. Would require DHS to publish regulations to implement this section not later than 120 days after enactment. In addition, would require DHS to begin accepting such applications not later than three months after the application form is first made available (The bill does not mandate a deadline for the release of the application form).

  • Would require aliens applying for deferred mandatory departure to surrender any Social Security card or number being used by the alien to DHS.

  • Would require the Secretary, in coordination with the Commissioner, to implement a system to allow for the enumeration of a Social Security number and production of a Social Security card at the time the Secretary grants an alien deferred mandatory departure status.

  • Would amend the Social Security Act to protect aliens, who apply for and are adjusted to lawful permanent residence status and who correct their Social Security records, from being prosecuted for having fraudulently obtained an SSN or program benefits, or having fraudulently used an SSN. Such protection would only apply to violations that occurred prior to adjustment of status.

Subtitle B-Agricultural Job Opportunities Benefits and Security
  • Would amend the Social Security Act to protect agricultural workers granted blue card status (aliens lawfully admitted for temporary residence), who correct their Social Security records, from being prosecuted for having fraudulently obtained an SSN or program benefits, or having fraudulently used an SSN. Such protection would only apply to violations that occurred prior to being granted blue card status.

  • Would be effective on the first day of the seventeenth month after enactment.

Title VIII Intercountry Adoption Reform

  • Would transfer all functions under immigration laws with respect to the adoption of foreign-born children by U.S. citizens and their admission to the United States from DHS to the Department of State except that DHS shall have the authority to make the final determination for pending adoptions.

  • Would be effective upon enactment.