Stop Inclusion of National ID in Immigration Bill- Call Senators

By: Nicole A. Ozer

Thousands of individuals and sixteen states have already told the federal government to dump the privacy-invasive REAL ID Act, which would standardize drivers licenses into a national ID and create databases linking the IDs together.

But instead of listening to the public, members of Congress are renewing their efforts to force us all to have a national ID card – this time through a backdoor approach of inserting Real ID provisions into the new immigration reform bill (S 1348).

A provision inserted into the major immigration reform bill would effectively force every American to present a standardized national ID in order to get a job and establish a huge "employment verification" system filled with Americans' personal information.

This bill is scheduled to come to a vote next week.

Please call Senator Boxer (415-403-0100) and Senator Feinstein (415-393-0707) and encourage them to VOTE YES for two amendments to fix these problems with the immigration bill:

1) Baucus-Tester Real ID Strike Amendment (Senate Amendment 1236)

2) Grassley-Baucus-Obama Title III Substitute Amendment (Senate Amendment 1441)

The inclusion of Real ID in the immigration bill demonstrates one of our core concerns-- once in place, uses of the IDs and database will inevitably expand to facilitate a wide range of tracking and surveillance activities. The Social Security number that started innocuously enough, but it has become a prerequisite for a host of government services and been co-opted by private companies to create massive databases of personal information.

The employment verification system is bound to contain errors impacting millions of Americans. Those errors and REAL ID delays could result in unnecessary hurdles when you apply for a job. The verification system would also make your private information more vulnerable to government misuse, security breaches, and identity theft.

Tell your Senators that you do not want a national ID card and to fix this part of the immigration bill by supporting Senate Amendment 1236 and Senate Amendment 1441. Call your Senator today.

I just called and urged them to vote for the amendments. Hope you will call them too!

Call text:

"Hello, I'm a constituent, and I urge [name of your Senator] to support Senate Amendment 1236 and Senate Amendment 1441 to change the immigration reform bill (S. 1348). I oppose the REAL ID Act, and oppose the electronic employment verification system's lack of due process and privacy protections."

To reach Senator Boxer, please call 415-403-0100.

To reach Senator Feinstein, please call 415-393-0707.

For more information about the employee verification system, EPIC produced an extensive Spotlight on Surveillance piece on the issue in May. You can read it here.

For more information about the amendments, see below.

Baucus-Tester amendment # 1236 - Striking Real ID Requirements from Immigration bill

What it does:

Eliminates from pending immigration bill any requirements that a person present a Real ID-compliant driver's license to get work. The current bill mandates that every worker – citizen, lawful permanent resident or visa holder -- present a Real ID by 2013 to get any new job.

Eliminates a newly proposed grant program that tries to coerce the 15 states that have already rejected participation in Real ID into changing their minds if they want to get any future funds from Congress for Real ID.

Grassley-Baucus-Obama Substitute Title III Amendment #1441

What it does:

Substitutes Title III of the immigration bill with a whole new Title III that establishes a much more workable Employment Eligibility Verification System that protects workers privacy, protects workers from discriminatory practices, and allows employers to have confidence in the legality of their workforce.

Why the ACLU supports this amendment

  • The entire immigration bill is premised on Employment Eligibility Verification System working – no legalization begins for any immigrant until this is certified.
  • The current EEVS will create a "no work list" where workers who are wrongly denied the right to work will have no way of effectively challenging a government error.
  • The current government program, Basic Pilot, was just found to not be accurate 8% of the time. The system will perform 60 million screenings per year, meaning that nearly 5 million times per year, the system will need additional information and could wrongly deny a citizen the right to work.
  • EEVS will fail if it relies on REAL ID because 15 or more states will never have Real ID.
  • The amendment builds in important privacy and due process protections, including allowing people to challenge government data errors and get back pay when the government wrongly denies them work.