Immigration Reform: National Biometric ID Card

By: Danielle E. Huntley, Esq.  

Comprehensive immigration reform seems elusive, if not impossible. If any consensus is to work I suggest rallying around a policy that stands on three legs: biometric national ID, employer sanctions and amnesty. In this post I’m going to deal with the biometric ID card and deal with the other two in subsequent posts.


There are three compelling reasons that a national biometric ID card is essential to any meaningful comprehensive immigration reform.


First, without a biometric ID card, comprehensive immigration reform can’t work. Historically speaking, the 1986 amnesty and reform failed to reduce illegal immigration because forged Social Security cards and drivers licenses were as easy to obtain as a pack of cigarettes. A biometric ID card enables employers to reliably and efficiently verify the employment eligibility. The current I-9 form is hyper-technical, onerous and ineffective. For example, in May 2010 the Justice Department sued John Jay College for more than $113,000 for demanding more documents from employees than the minimally required work eligibility documents. The government routinely punishes companies for demanding too many or too few documents, or for accepting inadequate documents. A biometric ID card eliminates these burdens for employers.


Second, a biometric ID card will increase individual privacy and security. We currently have the worst of both worlds: incredible amounts of personal information in government databases, yet little or no control over its dissemination. Imagine the peace of mind from knowing that your money, your personal data, your government benefits, your health and other files can only be accessed by your ID card, coupled with live biometric verification.


Third, a biometric ID card could contain voluntary, life-saving information. Other countries have incorporated blood type, emergency contacts and organ donor preference into their ID cards. Medics, hospitals and rescue personnel could access this vital information from the card’s magnetic strip.


Next up, common objections to a biometric ID card…