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Feds may soon check all workers' IDs

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20060302/ts_usatoday/fedsmaysooncheckallworkersids Feds may soon check all workers IDs By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY Thu Mar 2,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20060302/ts_usatoday/fedsmaysooncheckallworkersids

      Feds may soon check all workers' IDs

      By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY Thu Mar 2, 7:02 AM ET

      Congress is headed toward approving a plan that would
      require employers to check every worker's
      Social Security number or immigration work permit
      against a new federal computer database.

      Critics see the move - aimed at stemming illegal
      immigration - as the beginning of a government
      information stockpile that could be used to track U.S.
      residents.

      "We're getting closer and closer to a national ID
      card," says Tim Sparapani, legislative counsel for the
      American Civil Liberties Union.

      Lawmakers such as conservative House Judiciary
      Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and liberal
      Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record),
      D-Mass., have signed on to the verification plan,
      which is included in some form in every immigration
      bill currently before Congress. The goal is to make
      sure everyone working in the USA is doing so legally.

      The Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles
      immigration, begins drafting its version of the bill
      today. The House bill passed in December.

      The bills would require that a pilot program now used
      by 5,000 employers to check the legal status of job
      applicants be made mandatory.
      President Bush's 2007 budget includes $135 million to
      start expanding the verification system nationwide.

      Proponents say new tools are needed to curb illegal
      immigration. There are now an estimated 11 million
      illegal immigrants in the USA. "If we're going to have
      any means of controlling our borders, you have to have
      a tamper-proof Social Security card and verification
      at the time of employment," says Rep. Dan Lungren,
      R-Calif.

      Rep. Ken Calvert (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif.,
      says "this is not a national ID system." But several
      bills authorize studies of "tamper proof" Social
      Security cards or their issuance. The cards would
      include some biometric data and would be harder to
      counterfeit.

      During a debate in 1984, former representative Don
      Edwards, D-Calif., compared a proposed enhanced Social
      Security card to an "internal passport." Twelve years
      later, conservative GOP lobbyist Grover Norquist
      flooded Capitol Hill with activists wearing washable
      tattoos of an inventory bar code to show how a
      government clearinghouse could become a way to "track"
      Americans.

      Both sides agree that Congress' willingness to
      consider such proposals represents a political shift.
      "They're talking about things that, if I had talked
      about, they would have burned my humble butt," says
      former GOP senator Alan Simpson, who helped write
      immigration laws passed in 1986 and 1996. He contends
      that Congress' past refusal to create a secure ID
      system to verify employment eligibility is a reason
      that neither law stemmed the flow of illegal
      immigrants.

      Former Republican representative Bob Barr of Georgia,
      now on the ACLU's advisory board, agrees that
      attitudes have changed, but he doesn't think that is
      positive. "Far too many people have been swept into
      the post-9/11 system of fear that is the basis of all
      public policy these days," he says.
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