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The Government Would Like to See Your Papers, Please

The on-again, off-again immigration reform effort is apparently on again, with a new provision intended to regulate Americans’ access to the job market — and increase government’s access to Americans. According to The Wall Street Journal, a new plan being pushed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would require that all Americans get a new biometric ID card in order to work.

A person familiar with the legislative planning said the biometric data would likely be either fingerprints or a scan of the veins in the top of the hand. It would be required of all workers, including teenagers, but would be phased in, with current workers needing to obtain the card only when they next changed jobs, the person said.The card requirement also would be phased in among employers, beginning with industries that typically rely on illegal-immigrant labor.

The current immigration verification system, E-Verify, isn’t mandatory for all employers — thankfully, since it both misidentifies a number of legal workers and, unsurprisingly, fails to identify a large number of immigrants not cleared to work in the United States. But Graham and Schumer apparently consider illegal immigration such a huge problem that they want to subject every single American and legal immigrant — and their employers — to additional expenses, hassles and government surveillance in order to keep a much smaller subset of people from office-cleaning, dish-washing and fruit-picking jobs.

Think about this: The federal government wants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and force employees and employers still suffering from a recession to do the same, to create and make accessible to every employer a national database of the fingerprints of all Americans from the time they are 14 years old. And they want to do it in order to keep an estimated 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants — less than 4 percent of the total population of the United States — from accessing the job market. Apparently, cost-benefit analyses aren’t the rage on Capitol Hill these days.

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