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A biometric ID card for all American workers?

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AFP PHOTO/Shaun Curry/Newscom

(Read caption) British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith unveiled the design for Britain's controversial identity cards in 2008. Advocates of an immigration overhaul in the US are currently proposing biometric ID cards for all American workers.

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The ID card plan is one of several steps advocates of an immigration overhaul are taking to address concerns that have defeated similar bills in the past.

The uphill effort to pass a bill is being led by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), who plan to meet with President Barack Obama as soon as this week to update him on their work.

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…The biggest objections to the biometric cards may come from privacy advocates, who fear they would become de facto national ID cards that enable the government to track citizens.

“It is fundamentally a massive invasion of people’s privacy,” said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re not only talking about fingerprinting every American, treating ordinary Americans like criminals in order to work. We’re also talking about a card that would quickly spread from work to voting to travel to pretty much every aspect of American life that requires identification.”

…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.

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