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ACLU blasts national ID card proposal

April 30, 2010 at 9:28 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- Civil liberties advocates decried a Democratic proposal that would require all workers in the United States to carry an ID card with biometric identifiers.

Senate Democratic leaders Thursday revealed an outline to reform U.S. immigration laws, including a proposal requiring workers to carry a national card with biometric data, such as fingerprints, within six years.

The American Civil Liberties Union ripped the ID card program, called "Believe," an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally-stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment, The Hill reported Friday.

"Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives," ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese said.

The immigration system needs "real, workable reform," but not at the expense of individual freedoms, Calabrese said.

The proposal would require all workers to carry a card with a digital encryption key that must match work-authorization databases.

Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who worked on the outline and helped present it Thursday, said the public has become more comfortable with the idea of a national identification card.

"For a long time it was resisted by many groups but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification," Durbin said. "People understand that in this vulnerable world we have to be able to present identification."

Reform Immigration for America, a pro-immigrant group, praised Democrats for laying the groundwork for discussion, but said the framework still fell short, The Hill said.

"The proposal revealed today (Thursday) ... represents a possible path forward on immigration reform," the group said in a statement. "This framework is not there yet."

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