[JURIST] US senators working towards a compromise on key sections of an immigration reform bill [JURIST news archive] they hope to vote on by Memorial Day have tentatively agreed to toughen rules on the hiring of illegal immigrants by forcing employers to check Social Security numbers and investigate the immigration status of potential employees. The current Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 [text] sanctions employers for illegal hires but the rules have been only loosely enforced. Under the Senate agreement, fines per violation would range from $200 to $6,000 but would go as high as $20,000 if a controversial electronic screening system were implemented. Critics of the proposed electronic method such as the ACLU [immigrant rights website] and some business interests say it could have an effect similar to current no-fly lists, with legal workers being potentially barred from working because they are unable to confirm their status.
Senators involved in the negotiations include Jon Kyl (R-AZ) [official website], Chuck Grassley (R-IA) [official website], Edward Kennedy (D-MA) [official website], and Barack Obama (D-IL) [official website]. A recently-passed House immigration bill [JURIST report] also increases employer sanctions for hiring of illegals but has been criticized for harshness and its lack of a guest worker program. AP has more.