From a press release issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) division of the Department of Homeland Security:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas today announced an enhancement to the E-Verify program that will help combat identity fraud by identifying and deterring fraudulent use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) for employment eligibility verification.
This enhancement provides a critical safeguard to the E-Verify system by detecting and preventing potential fraudulent use of SSNs to gain work authorization. An employer, for example, may enter information into E-Verify that appears valid – such as a matching name, date of birth, and SSN – but was in fact stolen, borrowed or purchased from another individual. This new safeguard now enables USCIS to lock a SSN that appears to have been misused, protecting it from further potential misuse in E-Verify. ...
USCIS will use a combination of algorithms, detection reports and analysis to identify patterns of fraudulent SSN use and then lock the number in E-Verify. This will help deter and prevent fraudulent use of SSNs in the E-Verify system.
If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, E-Verify will generate a “Tentative Nonconfirmation” (TNC). The employee receiving the TNC will have the opportunity to contest the finding at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office. If an SSA field officer confirms the employee’s identity correctly matches the SSN, the TNC will be converted to “Employment Authorized” status in E-Verify. Employees who successfully confirm their identities are encouraged to call USCIS so they can learn more about available resources on identity theft and fraud prevention.Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute is concerned about this process:
The largest and most obvious problem is the Kafkaesque bureaucratic resolution process that could catch employees in an endless loop of lockdowns. To begin with, the onus for establishing a valid ID is placed on the user of the number as opposed to USCIS having to prove that the user is fraudulent. Mere identification by a USCIS algorithm shouldn’t prevent somebody from lawfully working.
Legitimate holders of Social Security numbers that are locked down are forced to go through the standard and long TNC resolution process to unlock their numbers, which in turn involves the use of state and federal issued documents to prove the applicant’s validity.
But these documents are dependent on Social Security numbers. Driver’s licenses in most states, passports, and most of the other forms of government issued ID use Social Security numbers to establish the bearer’s validity. In essence, the holder of a suspect Social Security number is forced to use documentation derived from a number considered suspect by USCIS in order to prove identification to USCIS. The government has not stated how it will resolve this conundrum or even if it has considered it.