Senate unlikely to adopt ID card for legal worker verification due to high costs

Updated Mar 14, 2013

UndocumentedConstructionSenators working on an immigration bill are not likely to adopt a high-tech ID card for workers because of costs, the Washington Post reported.

The legislation is intended to regulate employers who hire illegal immigrants. It will likely seek to expand E-Verify, a currently voluntary but little-used system which uses Social Security numbers to check the legal status of workers. It is criticized for being error-prone and susceptible to fraud, and officials with labor and immigrants’ rights groups say it needs many improvements before becoming a national requirement.

E-Verify, launched in as a pilot program in 1997, is a voluntary federal program that is mandatory in some states. About 7 percent of employers use E-Verify.

Some lawmakers have proposed other solutions that have since been discarded or postponed. Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer, members of the bipartisan Senate immigration negotiating group, strongly supported a biometric ID card that would personal markers such as fingerprints rather than Social Security numbers, but Graham said the cost would be larger than he expected.

President Barrack Obama has said he’ll offer draft immigration legislation, which would make E-Verify a national requirement, if the bipartisan Senate immigration negotiating group doesn’t reach an agreement quickly enough.