Biometric Database in Immigration Reform.
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or in its more formal title, S 744
To provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes. The legislative debate and discussions took place in early May. The bill in its current form passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, by a 13-5 vote.
Privacy and security groups have raised concerns about, the “photo tool,” and the possibility of the legislation becoming an all encompassing national identification system. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, is focused at curbing the employment of illegal and undocumented immigrants. While the altruistic intent of the legislation is well meaning, this type of legislation does not have history on its side.
The legislation in its current form creates a database to be used expressly for employment purposes. But historically these types of limitations are short lived. Your Social Security number and card, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need to provide your Social Security Number to purchase health insurance.
The legislation, some 800 pages, has a concerning and for some privacy and security groups, a frightening new tool, to be created. The innocent sounding “Photo Tool,” is a verification portion of the legislation to be used by employers for verification of potential employees. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will administer this massive federal database. The database will contain names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID. Employers would be, as a part of the new hire process, be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.
The “photo tool,” portion of the legislation is as follows:
‘(iii) PHOTO TOOL-
‘(I) USE REQUIREMENT- An employer seeking to hire an individual who has a covered identity document shall verify the identity of such individual using the photo tool described in subclause (II).
‘(II) DEVELOPMENT REQUIREMENT- The Secretary shall develop and maintain a photo tool that enables employers to match the photo on a covered identity document provided to the employer to a photo maintained by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services database.
‘(iv) ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES-
‘(I) USE REQUIREMENT- An employer seeking to hire an individual whose identity may not be verified using the photo tool described in clause (iii) shall verify the identity of such individual using the additional security measures described in subclause (II).
‘(II) DEVELOPMENT REQUIREMENT- The Secretary shall develop, after publication in the Federal Register and an opportunity for public comment, specific and effective additional security measures to adequately verify the identity of an individual whose identity may not be verified using the photo tool described in clause (iii). Such additional security measures–
‘(aa) shall be kept up-to-date with technological advances; and
‘(bb) shall provide a means of identity authentication in a manner that provides a high level of certainty as to the identity of such individual, using immigration and identifying information that may include review of identity documents or background screening verification techniques using publicly available information.
“The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities. It’s like a national ID system without the card.”, said David Bier, an analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The legislation is also a budgetary nightmare. It allows those agencies tasked with implementation of the legislation, to spend as necessary. The legislation exploits a legislative loophole in the Budget Control Act(BCA) allowing Congress to spend more than allowed under the spending caps which were adopted in 2011. How does this work? The legislation designates spending in the immigration bill as “emergency requirements.” Thus the bill would enables lawmakers to spend billions outside existing budget enforcement procedures. The legislation in its current form does nothing to address our current $16,747,976,378,000.32, and growing national debt.
The U.S. House of Representatives still has yet to introduce an immigration reform bill of their own.