Mississippi using driver's licenses to check worker status - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi using driver's licenses to check worker status

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A Mississippi driver's license is the newest tool in the Magnolia State to ensure the state's workforce is legal.

"This is just another step for employers. It's makes it a little bit easier for them and obviously they want to be in compliance," said Department of Public Safety Spokesman John Kalahar.

Starting this week, employers in Mississippi can simply enter a job applicant's driver's license number through the E-Verify Website System.

From there it will access the Department of Public Safety.

"We will simply send back a yes or a no," Kalahar said.  "We will not send back any other information, any personal information, any social security numbers are anything like that. We're simply confirming the information that the employer already has in front on them."

The six month pilot program comes as the federal government puts the E-Verify System to the test.

The system is designed to make sure only legal U.S. citizens are hired, but can't identify stolen or borrowed documents which the new component may be able to do.

The addition doesn't add up to Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance Director Bill Chandler.

"It's another step in making immigrant workers that may have entered the country without authorization or that come here on visas that have expired, it makes those workers more vulnerable to exploitation," Chandler said.

Chandler says with Social Security number mix-ups the E-Verify System is flawed to begin with and by adding driver's license numbers even legal residents could be put at risk.

"Because of mistakes in data entry it could put almost anybody in danger of having to go through some sort of process," Chandler said.

Chandler says the government should spend more time on fair and just immigration reform and not target Mississippi workers.

Meanwhile, Mississippi will be helping to shape the new system.

"It's simply to make it a little bit easier for the employer to check that status of the person applying for employment," Kalahar said.

Once the program is done, the federal government will decide if using driver's license information makes the system more effective.

From there, other states could begin using the same system.

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