2010-04-09 / Editorial/Opinion

Biometric Identification Cards: The Key To Reform Or The Brave New World

Every American Citizen is required to have a Social Security card, even though most of us throw it into a drawer and forget where it is. Now, Senator Chuck Schumer wants to take the idea of a national identification card one step forward. He and South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham are proposing the issuance of a biometric ID card – one that would instantly identify the cardholder through physical data such as fingerprints or retinal scans. Called “Enhanced Social Security Cards,” the device would quickly allow employers to insure that they are not hiring an illegal alien and would make it much easier to vet travelers and visitors to secure national buildings. Proponents hope that the new cards will move immigration reform forward by providing a positive way to differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants. Opponents of a national ID card say that carrying such a card is a violation of a person’s constitutional right to privacy, but we all carry identification that we use in various ways – to get on an airplane, to cash a check in a bank or a store, even to get into a local public school. The biometric ID card would be no different. There are, of course, roadblocks. Placing the card in the hands of all 150 million Americans would be costly and so would the card-readers that most businesses would need to have to make the system work. In a similar program, run by the Department of Homeland Security for its employees, each employee must pay about $132 to subsidize the system. The roadblocks can be overcome, however, and it is time for America to provide a secure form of identification for its citizens.

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