Biometric Worker Cards May Re-Surface From Immigration Debate

Biometric Worker Cards May Resurface From Immigration Debate

Congressional Quarterly
July 9, 2007 12:26 p.m.

Although a comprehensive immigration overhaul is likely dead until after the 2008 elections, piecemeal legislation still has a chance, including measures to make Social Security cards more secure.

The failed Senate immigration bill and three House bills (HR 1645, HR 98 and HR 2413) all propose increasing the security of Social Security cards. They differ on whether that would be done using biometric data such as fingerprints, a digital photo, a machine-readable electronic identification strip or some combination of those.

Members of both parties are interested in using biometrics in employment eligibility verification, but they want to get the comfort level that they know that it can work, Tova LaDier, managing director of the International Biometric Industry Association, said.

A pilot program could determine which type of biometric is best, whether to store biometric information on a card or solely in a database, what the necessary new equipment would cost employers, and how to make the enrollment process convenient.

Regardless of whether Congress passes a bill to increase the security of Social Security cards, the Social Security Administration is continuing to upgrade the cards. In October, it will issue new cards with features to prevent tampering, but those do not include a biometric or photograph, SSA spokesman Mark Hinkle said in an interview.

Source: CQ Today Midday Update
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