BUSINESSES LEERY on immigration bill:

As the immigration bill moved to the Senate floor, following a 69-23 vote last night, business groups worried that the worker-verification requirements of the bill would put a huge new responsibility on employers who have grown reliant on immigrant workers, even while national policy allows relatively few of them to live and work here legally. . . .

Under the bill, employers would have to submit the names of all new employees to EEVS within 18 months. They would have to review the documents of all workers — even those hired decades ago — and submit that data within three years. For federal contractors and others involved in national security, verification procedures would begin as soon as the bill is passed.

Employers contend that will put a huge strain on an employment-verification system that is used by only 1% of all employers and is considered unreliable because of holes in the government database.

The bill also puts new legal responsibilities on companies. Chief executives will be required to sign off on compliance certificates and could face perjury charges if their company’s verification documents aren’t in order.

Employers who now aren’t required to verify that a worker’s documents are genuine would face a slightly tougher test of liability — those papers would have to appear genuine to “a reasonable person,” the bill proposes.

Penalties for hiring an illegal worker would be increased to $5,000 a worker for a first offense from $250, and as much as $75,000 a worker for a third offense.

Civil-liberties groups also are wary of the verification requirements because they would require most workers to produce identity cards with fingerprints or other biometric data. The bill also requires the Social Security Administration to start issuing fraud-resistant cards and study whether it can include a picture or other personal data on the card — a requirement that will inflame that debate.

It’s a WSJ story, but this link should work for nonsubscribers for a while.