Utah Department of Workforce Services
Undocumented Resident List – FAQs
July 21, 2010
Why does DWS have a list of undocumented residents?
DWS does not have or compile a comprehensive list of undocumented residents. The collection of residency or citizenship status is required to determine benefit eligibility. Individual records within DWS databases may indicate possible undocumented status or that there is insufficient documentation to determine legal residency which does not necessarily indicate an individual is in Utah illegally.
Do illegal immigrants receive government benefits?
Undocumented residents are not eligible to receive benefits except for two federally mandated direct benefit services – emergency medical care (Medicaid) and emergency pregnant women medical care (Medicaid). These individuals make up less than one percent of all public assistance recipients. However, children born in the United States to undocumented residents are considered by law to be U.S. citizens and may receive SNAP (food stamps), TANF or Medicaid benefits.
Who is responsible to enforce immigration laws?
Neither DWS nor the Governor is charged with, or has the authority to enforce, immigration laws.
What safeguards exist in the state’s technology systems to protect personal information? Does DWS encrypt personal information?
The Division of Technology Services (DTS) network employs state-of-the-art firewalls and protective mechanisms to insure the security of all state data. Social Security Numbers are often stored in an encrypted format in DWS databases. Through a comprehensive review, DWS and DTS staff will determine if additional measures should be implemented to eliminate or reduce the frequency with which information is displayed to employees by encrypting or truncating personal information. It is important that the review ensure the proper balance between providing the data necessary for employees to do their jobs and the potential need for additional data security.
Does DWS’ computer system detect inappropriate internal case access?
Most of our major applications include automated reporting measures that track who accessed what data and when the information was accessed. In addition, DWS business processes and work products provide additional methods for “manually” tracking and safeguarding information and access. Over the next few weeks, DWS and DTS staff will complete a comprehensive business process and IT application review to identify if additional safeguards are warranted and information access and detection may be enhanced.
Which federal agencies might potentially conduct separate investigations?
The Social Security Administration (SSA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS)/US Department of the Treasury, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)/US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)/US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), US Department of Labor (DOL).
Does DWS perform background checks on employees? What training do employees receive?
DWS completes a background check for every new hire or employee transfer. As part of DWS new employee orientation, employees receive training regarding the DWS and DTS acceptable use policies. In addition, all employees are required to complete the annual DTS Security Awareness Training and receive repeated program instruction about the protection of personal and confidential data.
How much has this investigation cost DWS in staff time and resources?
Over the last week, several DWS and DTS staff members have been involved in the review. DTS employees have charged over 280 hours and DWS administrative staff have devoted over 200+ hours to the investigation.
What human resource protocols are in place for instances like this?
Once an allegation has been made, an investigation is conducted to determine if there is sufficient evidence to support the claim. Administrators meet with the suspected employee(s) who are provided an opportunity to respond to the allegations, explain possible evidence and disclose any involvement. Circumstances are reviewed on a case by case basis and appropriate action is taken. According to existing DWS policy, inappropriate access to and distribution of personal and confidential records may result in termination. The department will reinforce current procedures by implementing a “zero tolerance” policy that will result in automatic termination for unauthorized access to case information.
Why doesn’t the State share the information about undocumented residents with law enforcement and immigration officials?
Federal requirements expressly prohibit the distribution of personal data for purposes other than program eligibility determination. DWS is responsible for administering, not establishing, the law.
What rules or laws exist to protect personal information disclosed to state agencies?
The Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA) prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of private, protected or controlled records and designates deliberate violations as crimes subject to prosecution. Additionally, the Employment Security Act, the Food Stamp Act, various federal laws and DWS' administrative rules specifically prohibit unauthorized disclosure of personal information. Non-compliance to federal and state laws could potentially jeopardize the funding and services for all citizens served by DWS.