The U.S. Senate is expected to consider in the coming weeks a House of Representative immigration reform bill that would require all U.S. employers to verify with the federal government the work eligibililty of all employees or face severe civil penalties.

The Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) passed the House Saturday, December 16th.

The bill greatly increases penalties for violating hiring, recruiting and referral provisions.

Employers with even inadvertent paperwork violations could face penalties of up to $25,000.

The House bill would require all U.S. employers to submit the Social Security numbers and other vital statistics of all employees to a central database operated by the federal government.

The government would then notify the employee whether the individual is eligible to work.

This process would not only be required for new hires but for existing employees.

Among the organizations opposing the bill is the National Newspaper Association, the largest association of newspapers in the country,

“Besides imposing a burden on small employers, concerns have also been raised over potential gitches in the system, the Natonal Newspaper Association said in a statement to its members.

“The employee verification system proposed by H.R. 4437 is already in place as a small pilot program used by just 3,500 businesses.

“However, the GAO (General Accounting Office) found that about 15 pecent of all system requests require additional verification because the system in place is unable to provide accurate responses.

“This could jeopardize the eligibility of millions of American workers,” the newspaper association said.

“Work on finding a less burdensome approach is under way in the Senate,” the association said.

Local Congresswoman Jane Harman voted against H.R. 4437.

A Harman press deputy said the bill is so onerous for employees, Harman doubts it will succeed a Senate vote and a conference review between the House and the Senate.