The immigration reform bill currently sitting in the Senate is huge: it's more than 800 pages long, with more than 300 proposed amendments crammed in. Senators are in the early stages of debating the measure, and so far, there's a lot of talk about border security. But one detail that isn't getting much attention yet is a deeply buried proposal to create a national database of nearly every adult in the US.
This proposed database, which was first reported by Wired, would be run by the Department of Homeland Security and be made up of a name, age, social security number, and photograph for every adult who has a diver's license or government issued ID. The bill also calls on DHS to create a "photo tool" that "enables employers to match the photo on a covered identity document provided to the employer to a photo maintained by a US Citizenship and Immigration Services database." Essentially, DHS's Citizenship and Immigration Services division would create the database, as well as software that employers would be required to use to make sure new hires match up with their photo.
Could such a database be used for more than getting a job?
The motivation behind the creation of the database, the photo tool, and forcing employers to use it, is of course aimed at keeping undocumented immigrants from getting jobs in the US. But if such a database were created, if the bill were passed with this mandate included, it would likely be only a matter of time before it's used for more than just employment issues. As Wired pointed out in its report, the social security card was originally created to ensure citizens received federal retirement benefits. Now, the social security card is used for all sorts of things, including verifying citizenship or residency.