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[Congressional Record: November 21, 2003 (Extensions)]
[Page E2372]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []



                               speech of

                           HON. DOUG BEREUTER

                              of nebraska

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, November 19, 2003

  Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, this Member rises in strong support of S. 
1685, the Basic Pilot Extension Act of 2003. This Member, who is a 
cosponsor of the House measure, would like to thank the distinguished 
gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Grassley) for introducing the measure.
  Under S. 1685, the Basic Pilot Program, which is an employment 
verification program, would be extended through 2008 and, indeed, would 
expand access to the program for the entire U.S.
  Mr. Speaker, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 
correctly prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal aliens or 
people with non-immigrant visas. Unfortunately, at that time, Congress 
did not give employers the corresponding tools with which to comply 
with this Act.
  For example, due to concerns regarding discrimination, employers are 
limited in the questions they may ask of potential employees to verify 
if those individuals are authorized to work in the U.S. If the 
employment verification documents that potential employees produce 
appear to be legitimate, then employers must accept the documents as 
legitimate without further inquiry of the potential employee.
  During Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) enforcement 
raids, certain employers were found to have hired large numbers of 
illegal aliens, either knowingly or unintentionally, and subsequently 
they were subject to penalties. As technology has progressed to allow 
for the cheap and quick production of legitimate-looking fraudulent 
documents, the inability of employers to distinguish between valid 
documents and fraudulent documents has significantly increased. It 
became clear that businesses dedicated to complying with the IRCA 
needed new tools to assist with the endeavor.
  When the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act 
(IIRIRA) of 1996 was enacted, it authorized the creation of three 
employment verification tools, including the Basic Pilot Program. 
Initially, employers in California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Florida, 
New York, and Iowa could voluntarily use the Basic Pilot Program to 
compare the information received from potential employees with 
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) databases to determine if 
potential employees could be employed legally in the U.S.

  Mr. Speaker, throughout the 1990's, many legal immigrants and illegal 
aliens moved to Nebraska seeking jobs in the meatpacking industry. 
Subsequently, this Member began to receive contacts from businesses in 
his district concerned about their capacity to comply with the IRCA. 
Therefore, on November 30, 1999, this Member joined his House and 
Senate colleagues in the Nebraska Congressional Delegation in a letter 
to then-INS Commissioner Doris Meissner requesting the extension of the 
Basic Pilot Program to Nebraska. This Member continues to firmly 
believe that providing Nebraska businesses with the tools to hire a 
legal workforce is an important component in maintaining a stable 
economy in the state and in meeting needs to effectively enforce 
immigration laws in this country's interior. On March 19, 1999, the 
U.S. Department of Justice granted Nebraska businesses access to the 
Basic Pilot Program. Currently, about eight Nebraska businesses 
actively utilize the program.
  Mr. Speaker, for Congress to allow the Basic Pilot Program to lapse 
following the horrific and unspeakable terrorist attacks of September 
11, 2001, would demonstrate true negligence. More than ever, the U.S. 
must fully enforce its immigration laws to protect its citizens from 
future attacks. In its capacity to identify document fraud and illegal 
aliens, the Basic Pilot Program can indeed play a role in the fight 
against terrorism.
  In conclusion, this Member encourages his colleagues to vote for S.