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National ID Card could be the cornerstone of comprehensive immigration reform

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Key issues remain to be hammered out with the comprehensive immigration reform blueprint proposed by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).  This is the conclusion from a recent Yahoo News article covering potential fallout from the new legislation.

A chief issue is effective enforcement of the proposed immigration reform.  At the heart of the bipartisan proposal is a potentially controversial plan to issue a biometric identification card to all Americans, containing DNA information in the form of fingerprints and/or in other forms.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, the two senators explain their reasoning for these cards.  They call for:

     requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.

To some, a single card makes the process of hiring legal workers more efficient, condensing all forms of identification into one document.  To others, enforcing this single card requirement would be virtually impossible, given the requirement that every single American citizen would be required to obtain one, possibly taking years to fully implement.

There are the financial aspects of the legislation to consider as well.  The Yahoo article points out that “employers would have to pay up to $800 for card-reading machines, and many point out that compliance could prove burdensome for many small-to-medium-size businesses.”  Businesses might have to pay more than expected if initial cost estimates are incorrect.
Coupled with healthcare costs to be imposed on businesses, the immigration reform bill seems to represent another unfunded federal mandate further burdening businesses in a sagging California economy.

Businesses are not the only ones to pay costs stemming from the new legislation. Illegal immigrants will be expected to each pay $132.50 according to the new legislation.

At the same time, if federal agents cannot realistically track every single immigrant entering the country, how this fee requirement would be enforced on undocumented workers is not necessarily clear at this stage of the process.  It is also unclear how the federal government would make up for lost revenue caused by immigrants still slipping through the system unwilling to pay the fine.

Ultimately, the immigration reform legislation raises civil liberties issues.  Some see the immigration reform effort as a gateway to infringing upon the civil liberties of Americans.

According to Alex Nowrasteh, policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the national ID includes the following: retinal scans, fingerprints, vein mapping, and facial mapping. He also says the proposed reform measures will not cut down on illegal immigration because there will still be illegal immigrants operating in what he calls a “black market.”

Despite new legislation, there still will be companies and immigrants continuing to find ways to operate illegally, seeking to avoid fines imposed upon them by the federal government.  The primary people negatively impacted will be American citizens, he says.

“All this will do is put more burdens on American businesses, American consumers, and American workers.”

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