In an opinion article published in Friday’s edition of the Washington Post, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say the new identification cards will “ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs” and “dramatically decrease illegal immigration.”
Schumer and Graham pitched the idea to President Obama during a private meeting Thursday at the White House. Graham said afterward that Obama “welcomed” their proposal for a new ID card law; the White House said in a statement that the senators’ plan was “promising.”
This push for a national ID is part of what the senators say is a necessary overhaul of immigration law, including additional border security, more temporary workers, and a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the United States. It comes just two days before a rally in Washington, D.C. sponsored by groups including the AFL-CIO, Farmworker Justice, and the National Council of La Raza that also calls for amnesty.
Linking national ID cards to immigration reform is a popular idea in Washington political circles. After all, if every U.S. citizen has a biometric-equipped cards, the thinking goes, it’s easy to order employers not to give a job to someone without one.
But concerns about privacy, security, and federalism have torpedoed each one of these proposals so far. A similar national ID plan–which also required that employers do verifications–sunk President Bush’s broader proposal for immigration reform in 2007. A proposal three years earlier by Rep. David Drier (R-Calif.) to create federal ID cards with Americans’ photograph, Social Security number, and an “encrypted electronic strip” with additional information was even less successful.
Then there was the controversial Real ID Act, which tried unsuccessfully to compel states to standardize their drivers’ licenses. But a libertarian grassroots revolt, including an anti-Real ID
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