Nicholas Johnston, Bloomberg News, January 6, 2005
All Americans starting a job would need new, plastic Social Security cards with digital photographs and encrypted data under a proposal by six U.S. lawmakers to prevent illegal immigration.
Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., and his co-sponsors also proposed new penalties for companies that hire ineligible workers.
Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, will introduce the bill in the Senate.
“This will make it clear to those coming here for work that you can do so, but you must do so legally,” Dreier said at a news conference. “Employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants must pay the price for breaking the law.”
Dreier and other Republicans have made combating illegal immigration a priority this year because legislation to reorganize the nation’s intelligence agencies didn’t include national standards for state driver’s licenses and rules making it tougher for immigrants to gain asylum.
Under the proposed legislation, employers would have to check all potential employees against a Department of Homeland Security database to ensure they are eligible for employment. Maximum fines for employers that hire illegal workers would increase from $10,000 to $50,000 and prison time would increase from a maximum of five years to five years for each violation.
The measure would add 10,000 agents to enforce the new rules and $100 million to pay for the program.
Dreier and Texas Democrat Silvestre Reyes, a co-sponsor, said the card wouldn’t become a national identification card and would have imprinted on its front, “This card shall not be used for the purpose of identification.”
[Editor’s Note: More on this story: Dreier Race Illustrates Cautionary Tale On Immigration Policy.]