Illegal Aliens:

Fraudulent Documents Undermining the Effectiveness of the Employment Verification System

T-GGD/HEHS-99-175: Published: Jul 22, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1999.

Additional Materials:


Norman J. Rabkin
(202) 512-3610


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the impact of fraudulent documents on the effectiveness of the employment verification system established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and efforts to reduce such fraudulent use.

GAO noted that: (1) significant numbers of aliens unauthorized to work in the United States have used fraudulent documents to circumvent the employment verification process designed to prevent employers from hiring them; (2) the Immigration and Naturalization Service has taken steps to reduce the number of documents that could be used to verify employment eligibility and to improve the security features in its work authorization documents; (3) however, opportunities still exist for unauthorized aliens to circumvent the employment verification process and obtain employment; (4) in 1997, the Social Security Administration estimated the cost of producing and issuing a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card that could be used to establish employment eligibility to all 277 million cardholders ranged from $3.9 billion to $9.2 billion, depending on which types of security features and data were incorporated into the card; and (5) while alternatives exist that could reduce these costs, these options require legislative action to move forward.

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