Arizona verifys employees social security numbers

  The state of Arizona verifys employees social security numbers with the number in Washington D.C. About 40 people a month are found to have invalid SS numbers. Does the state fired these people? I don't know. This article doesn't say.


State effort proves that Social Security info can be verified

Richard Ruelas
Republic columnist
Oct. 16, 2006 12:00 AM

Quietly, for the past year, state officials tucked away in a non- descript building near the state Capitol have waged a small battle against illegal immigration.

What they do seems pretty simple: They check state employees' Social Security numbers to make sure they match those on file in Washington.

But that monthly running of the numbers might prove significant in the debate over illegal immigration in Arizona.

Because it knocks down a major argument that kept state Republicans from supporting legislation last year that would crack down on employers of illegal immigrants.

Namely, it shows the database works.

Arizona started checking the names and Social Security numbers of its employees in December after Gov. Janet Napolitano signed an executive order mandating the program.

Since then, every five weeks or so, the state Department of Administration has electronically sent the names and numbers of all 42,000 state employees through the Social Security Number Verification program.

So far, only 409 people have been kicked back as "no-matches." That's an average of about 40 a month. Alan Eckert, a department spokesman, said the number has gone down each time.

Those 409 "no-matches" do not mean that Arizona was employing people here illegally. The most common reason for a "no-match" is an employee getting married and still having her maiden name on file with Social Security. Or using a middle name as his or her first name.

Employees who don't match are told to fix the problem. Eckert said the state doesn't know how many people have quit because they couldn't produce a verifiable Social Security number.

But the main lesson is this: More than 99.9 percent of the employees were verified with no hitch. The state didn't devolve into chaos.

The supposed inaccuracy of the database was the main reason the Arizona Chamber of Commerce opposed a law that would have made employers use it.

Napolitano said the state has now shown the reliability of the database. "It seemed to me we needed to lead by example," she said.

Now that it's a proven program, Napolitano said she won't let Republicans hide behind the chamber's excuses. "I'll insist that if (lawmakers) are going to continue to send me immigration-related matters, they need to include realistic employer sanctions," she said.

By the time the legislative session opens in January, "we'll have by then, over a year's worth of actual real experience," Napolitano said. "And we're one of the largest employers in the state."

Turns out she won't get much argument from Jim Weiers, who most likely will return as House speaker next year.

"I think it needs to be expanded," Weiers said, "based on the fact we've done it without the chaos predicted."

Weiers said he would recommend that Arizona's cities and counties also use the program and possibly mandate that any company that does business with the state also verify its employees.

He predicted that the Chamber of Commerce would still oppose any expansion of the program, but the state now has data to rebut its arguments.

"People do not like change," Weiers said, "but this is what the people are demanding."

Reach Ruelas at or (602) 444-8473.