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All Your Database Are Belong to Us

By Margaret Lyons in News on Sep 25, 2007 2:55PM

2007_09_25_dhsseal.jpg"The United States of America v. the State of Illinois" has a real dramatic ring to it, no? The Department of Homeland Security is suing Illinois in an attempt to invalidate a state law that bans employers from using E-Verify, a website that allows employers to check if a Social Security number is valid.

2007_09_25_ilseal.jpgBlago signed the law, which passed with bipartisan "veto-proof majorities," in August, and it's supposed to go into effect in January. Illinois legislators say the database is inaccurate, and they're trying to protect workers; Rep. Cynthia Soto says some of her constituents were fired after preliminary E-Verify results incorrectly identified them as undocumented. Right now, the database turns up results within a day or two about 93 percent of the time. The other seven percent of the time, results are "tentative non-confirmations," and those results currently take 10 days and have "less than 50 percent accuracy," according to Blago spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff. The new law says until 99 percent of those non-confirmed results can be available within 3 days, employers can't use the E-Verify system.

This isn't just about about a database, though. It's about the supremacy clause in the Constitution, and it's about whether the Department of Homeland Security is selectively targeting Illinois. Oooh, we love a good government agency–on–government agency wrestling match.