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Proposed worker ID cards stir controversy

In recent years, states have taken the issue of illegal immigration into their own hands, claiming that the federal government has failed its responsibilities to secure the nation’s borders.

The latest idea for nabbing illegal immigrants, a national worker ID card, is touted by supporters as an excellent way to help employers know who is eligible to work and who isn’t.

The differences between the proposed card and, say, a green card or social security number would include fingerprinting, vein scans, and the gathering of other physical characteristics.  In other words, it would — again, only in theory — make it harder for people to fake their work eligibility.

The problem?  Well, that’s the thing:  there are several of them.

According to a new study by the UC Berkeley, implementation and administration of the cards could end up costing the United State $45 billion. And that’s a conservative estimate.

But there are concerns more significant than the cost. Primarily, there’s a question of privacy.

Jonathan Weinberg, a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, framed it this way for Inside Bay Area:

“It’s inherently dangerous and problematic to give government that kind of lever over people, that with just a [computer] switch, you’re not allowed to work for a living.”

Even if there were safeguards in place to prevent mix-ups that might keeping a legal resident from working, wouldn’t it just be creepy for the government to have that much information about you in a database?

The study ultimately found that the ID cards wouldn’t do much to stop illegal immigration and employment, but instead, they’d hurt the poor, cost a heck of a lot of money and infringe upon all of our civil liberties. Go figure.


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