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Begich Helps Rural Alaskans Avoid Expensive Red Tape

Amendment Eliminates Unnecessary Travel Requirements for Rural Alaskans

Reminding senators from the Lower 48 that things work differently in Alaska, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today introduced an amendment to the immigration bill to ensure Alaskans in rural and remote communities will not incur expensive travel and bureaucratic hassles when proving their eligibility for employment.

Sen. Begich’s amendment modifies the new “E-Verify” employment eligibility program included in the Senate immigration bill.  E-Verify requires employees to prove they are indeed eligible for work.  Employers also must participate in the new program.  If the Senate bill becomes law, virtually all American workers will be processed through the E-Verify program in order to ensure each individual may legally work in the United States.

If an individual’s employment eligibility under E-Verify is questioned during the application process, the current bill says the Secretary of Homeland Security may require an individual to appear in person at the nearest office of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to verify their identity and eligibility. 

“The requirement to appear in person would place a huge burden on people in rural areas,” Sen. Begich said.  “It’s just not realistic, especially for the more than 30,000 Alaskans who live off the road system.  We wouldn’t require the people of New York to take a boat, snowmachine or plane just to verify their employment eligibility and we shouldn’t require that of Alaskans.”

Sen. Begich’s amendment would provide an alternative to the in-person requirement for those who live more than 150 miles from the nearest Social Security office or in a location that is inaccessible by road. 

Under the amendment, the federal government would need to make available a secondary method to verify the individual’s identity and employment eligibility, such as via the internet or mail. 

The immigration bill, S. 744, is under debate this month on the Senate floor. 

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