[JURIST] US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] has criticized a bipartisan amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 [S 1348 summary; JURIST report] that seeks to loosen the worker verification program by requiring employers to verify only the immigration status of new job applicants. In a letter sent late Tuesday to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) [official profiles], Chertoff called the move a "step backwards" in the federal government's efforts to enforce border security and immigration laws. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) [official profiles], would also remove a requirement mandating that employees use the controversial federal REAL ID [JURIST news archive], instead allowing employees to use driver's licenses or other recognized forms of identification. The three senators dismissed the criticism Wednesday as "erroneous and misleading," saying that their proposal seeks to repair a deeply flawed system.
The immigration reform [JURIST news archive] bill, which failed a cloture vote [JURIST report] two weeks ago, is currently stalled as the Senate works on an energy bill. Senators are looking to revive the bill [JURIST report] before the July 4 recess. Opponents of the immigration reform bill say it amounts to "amnesty" for up to 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, and others have objected to restrictions on the right of legal immigrants to bring their families to the US. AP has more.