ICE raids Swift Meat Packing Company arresting suspected illegal aliens on identity theft charges and Understanding the government's Basic Pilot work authorization program.
December 13, 2006, ICE raid on Swift Meat Packing Company.
Watch streaming video: CNN Lou Dobbs on ID theft and ICE raid of Swift Meat Packing Company
Click here for BroadbandClick here for Dialup

Watch MSNBC-TV coverage of the ICE raid of Swift Meat Packing Company
Click here for BroadbandClick here for Dialup
The Basic Pilot Work Verification system, and why it doesn't work
And why the Basic Pilot Work Verification program is a scam.

Questions and Answers
By Hal Netkin

Q. Is ICE getting serious about workplace enforcement?
A. Not really. DHS Secretary, Chertoff, repeatedly says that in order to control illegal labor in the workplace, the U.S. needs a guest worker program. It appears that the raids are a token effort to convince the citizens that the DHS is enforcing the law -- this in an attempt to justify a guest worker program wanted by President Bush.

Q. Why weren't any of Swift's executives arrested on suspicion of knowingly allowing illegals to work?
A. Swift says it had no idea there were illegals working at their plant (wink, wink -- nudge nudge). Swift says they have been using the government's Basic Pilot online work authorization program and don't consider themselves liable for any illegal workers due to the government's flawed work authorization program.

Q. What is the Basic Pilot program?
A. The Basic Pilot program for employers is a part of the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) program. The Basic Pilot is an Internet online program that allows employers to verify the name and social security number of new employees. For the government's description, Click here.

Q. Is the Basic Pilot so flawed that it missed a couple of thousand workers at Swift?
A. The database itself is not flawed, but the government's rules of applying the program appear to be (intentionally) flawed.

Q. How would know that the Basic Pilot program is flawed?
A. Hal Netkin, the president of joined the program to test it out.

Q. What are the shortcomings of the program?
A. Listed below are some excerpts taken from the 103 page Basic Pilot Manual. (If you have the time and wish to read the Basic Pilot Manual, Click Here [allow several minutes for download]).

* Since the program is strictly voluntary and NOT mandatory, one has to conclude that congress is intentionally leaving a loophole in the system.

* As can be concluded from the program's complicated and elaborate manual, small and medium size businesses do not have the resources and manpower necessary to administer the program.

* The employee must be newly hired before the employer initiates a verification query. In other words, the employer cannot use the system to pre-screen applicants for employment -- it must HIRE the employee FIRST before doing the verification.

* Employers may not go back and check employees hired before the company entered to participate in the Basic Pilot program. In other words, any company who enters to participate in the program, may not verify the work authorization of existing employees -- only new hires. Probably, many of the illegal aliens busted at Swift were working for Swift before Swift signed up for the program.

* Employers must make verification inquiries within 3 business days of hire. In other words, if the person at a company who is responsible for administering the Basic Pilot program is ill for three days and unable to verify the employment authorization of an alien who was hired three days before, that alien gets a free pass.

* Employers may NOT use the system to re-verify employment authorization. In other words, if the employer suspects that an alien mistakenly received work authorization when first hired, the employer may NOT check the work authorization of that alien again.

Q. I understand that is a small PAC (Political Action Committee) with no employees. How did test the Basic Pilot without hiring an employee?
A. Since already has an EIN (Employer Identification Number), Hal Netkin was able to hire himself as treasurer. To test the system, Hal entered his correct SS number and correct date of birth, but used a fictitious name. The message returned by Homeland Security said that the employee was NOT authorized to work. The case was resolved by reporting to DHS that the "fictitious" employee terminated himself.

The authorization was tried again, but this time with the correct name. The message returned said that Hal Netkin was authorized to work.

Q. Doesn't the Basic Pilot verification match the birth date of the applicant as well as their name and social security number?
A. No, incredibly it does not. One of the tests in hiring myself, was to put my real name and real social security number into the verification data, but I entered a birth date other than mine. The return message was "Employment Authorized." In other words, even though the Basic Pilot asks for date of birth, the job applicant need only enter a stolen matching name and SSN to fool the system, but can use any date of birth.

Q. In the CNN newscast video, reporter Casey Wian indicated that the Basic Pilot program was not capable of  matching names with SS numbers. Doesn't this contradict Hal Netkin?
A. Casey Wian was in error. The Basic Pilot DOES match social security numbers to names. If it wasn't necessary to match SS numbers to names, then any amateur would be able to check the validity of any social security number on line. To check the validity of any social security number, Click Here. You can also find the SSN of anyone deceased if you know their name, or find their name if you know their SSN by clicking here.

Q. Apart from the mentioned shortcomings, what's the chief problem with the Basic Pilot program?
A. The Basic Pilot does not indicate whether the same name and social security number are being used by more than one person.

Q. What's so difficult about implementing multi social security number detection in the Basic Pilot program?
A. There is nothing difficult about detecting multi-users of the same SS number. Banks and credit reporting institutions do it all the time. Moreover, the IRS already knows when someone is using a phony social security number as is evident from this case.

Not only does the IRS not turn incriminating evidence of fraud over to the DHS, the IRS processes tax returns in which the W2 forms issued by the employer have phony or stolen social security numbers, but the tax return itself is filed using an ITIN. To view an actual tax return as described here, Click here.

Q. What must the employer do if a new hire is found to be UN-authorized to work?
A. The employer cannot do anything but ask the employee to either fix the problem with the SS agency or quit. In other words, there are no consequences to the employee for using fraudulent documents to attempt to get a job. The employee is free to try his luck with another company.

In those cases where an employee was flagged as unauthorized, the employer must allow the employee eight government business days to straight out the "error" with the applicable agency. If the applicant cannot prove that errors were made, the employer must terminate the employee or the employee may self terminate. In either case, the employer must notify Homeland Security of the termination by E-filing a "Resolution."

Employers may NOT report workers suspected of being illegal immigrants to Homeland Security. This allows illegal immigrant workers who are hired off the street with fraudulent documents to be able to work and be paid for up to eight workdays (eleven if the employer waited three days before doing the verification) before being fired. In other words, when an applicant (illegal alien) is flagged with "no authorization" the employee must be allowed to work for eight or eleven days before being fired. That is more time than some contractors need of employees. The eight or eleven day "straighten out" period would allow some illegal workers such as those hired off the street by building contractors to stay nearly steadily employed by job hopping.

Q. Why were only a small fraction of those arrested charged with identity theft while the rest were only charged with immigration violations?
A. There are two ways in which to use someone else's SS number. One way is to use someone else's number but not their name. The other way is to use both the number and matching name.

It seems that ICE does not consider the mere use of someone else's SS number as ID theft if the user invented a name to go with the SS number. In other words, you won't be charged with ID theft if you make up a name to go with the stolen SS number.

Q. Couldn't someone make up both a name and SS number that didn't belong to anyone?
A. No. Invalid SS numbers are easily detected by both the IRS and SS agency. Since anyone can check the validity of a social security number, you can be sure that underground merchants who deal in fraudulent documents, check the validity of the numbers they print on forged social security cards to make sure that the numbers do in fact belong to unsuspecting persons who obtained their SS numbers legitimately.

Q. How do we know that some of the Swift employees were not using a SS number that didn't belong to anyone?
A. Except for employees hired before Swift entered the Basic Pilot program, new hires would be easily busted regardless of how flawed the Basic Pilot program is.

Q. So if I make up both a SS number and name neither of which belongs to anyone, I can't be charged with ID theft?
A. Maybe not, but it is certainly felony fraud.

Q. If the use of a fake SS number is felony fraud, why weren't all of the suspected illegals charged with fraud?
A. Apparently, Chertoff ordered the ICE agents to reduce felony fraud charges to "misdemeanor misunderstanding" charges.

Q. Why is the Basic Pilot Work Verification program a government scam?
A. Because the government already knows who the illegals are who are filing tax returns -- but they have a don't ask, don't tell policy preferring to pass the work verification buck to the employer.

Q. How does the government know that someone is an illegal alien from their tax return?
A. There are two situations. Let's take them one at a time:
FIRST SITUATION: The illegal alien tax filer is using a stolen identity.
The IRS knows when more than one person is filing a tax return with the same social security number. The IRS's database is among the most sophisticated in the world. Certainly it has the capability to flag multi user social security numbers much like getting flagged when you try to establish a WEB domain that is already registered to someone else. The IRS could easily coordinate with the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to launch an investigation to nab the stolen identity users. Incredibly, the IRS processes two or more returns with the same social security number. The price winning spin offered by the IRS is that since they don't know who the real tax filer is, they must protect the privacy of all of those who are using the same identity.

SECOND SITUATION: The illegal alien tax filer files his 1040 return with an ITIN (Individual Tax payer Identification Number), but with an invalid or stolen social security number on the W2 attached to the 1040. It has to be obvious to the IRS that there is a conflict: The tax filer has filed his 1040 with an ITIN because he supposedly doesn't have a social security number. Yet the attached W2 shows a social security number. This begs the question: If the tax payer is showing a social security number on his W2, why is he using an ITIN? So why doesn't the IRS pass this information on to the DHS? Again the spin: It's a privacy issue. But even if we were to accept the notion that the IRS should keep tax payers' information private, no one would deny that fraud is exempt from privacy protection. Isn't the IRS is obligated to report fraud? By not reporting fraudulent fraudulent tax payers to Homeland Security, the IRS is itself committing a crime by knowingly allowing a "crime in progress" to continue.