openDemocracyUK

Is the US about to get ID cards?

Guy Aitchison
30 April 2010

Democrats in the US are pushing forward an Immigration Bill which may contain the foundations for a national biometric ID card scheme. The HuffingtonPost informs us:

The Democratic proposal includes increased money for border patrol and drug war agents, equipment, helicopters and unmanned drones. It would create a national ID -- which is dubbed a "biometric social security card." Though Democrats insist that it is not an ID card and can only be used for employment purposes.

The proposal would also include a crackdown on employers who hire undocumented workers. It works to deport some immigrants who are not in the country legally and creates a limited pathway to citizenship for others...

The crackdown on employers relies on the creation of national identity cards. "These cards will be fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant, wear resistant, and machine-readable social security cards containing a photograph and an electronically coded micro-processing chip which possesses a unique biometric identifier for the authorized card-bearer," reads the bill summary.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Just like our very own ID card scheme...before it dawned on people it was a wasteful and intrusive nightmare inflicted by the Home Office, in cahoots with IT companies, and that it would do none of the things it promised.  I'd be interested to hear from Democrats what the difference is between an ID card and a "biometric social security card". At the moment this sounds exactly like the kind of dishonest justification used by our government to spin ID cards here.  A sinister development indeed. This is what the American Civil Liberties Union has to say:

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy — one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel. 

I never thought I'd say this, but let's hope the Republicans kill this measure in the Senate. If not, look out for the US version of NO2ID very soon.

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