Officials said U.S. immigration authorities plan to issue photo ID cards to immigrants as part of deportation proceedings in a bid to reduce paper use and help people get Keep informed of required meetings and hearings.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proposal is still being developed as a pilot program, and it was not immediately clear how many the agency would issue. The cards would not be an official form of federal identification and indicate that they are to be used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The idea is that immigrants can access information about their cases online using a map rather than paper documents that are cumbersome and can fade over time, officials said. They said ICE officers could also perform map checks on the ground.
“Switching to a secure card will save the agency millions, free up resources, and ensure information is quickly accessible to DHS officials while reducing the agency’s FOIA backlog,” said one. ICE spokesperson in a statement, referring to unmet public requests for agency documents. According to government data, Homeland Security receives more requests under the Freedom of Information Act than any other federal agency, and many of them involve immigration cases.
The proposal sparked a flurry of questions about what the card could be used for and how secure it is. Some fear the program could lead to the tracking of immigrants waiting their day in immigration court, while others suggest the cards could be advertised by migrant smugglers in an attempt to entice others to do the same. dangerous journey north.
The Biden administration is asking for $10 million for the so-called ICE Secure Docket Card in a budget proposal for the next fiscal year.
It was not immediately clear whether the money would cover the pilot or a larger program, or when it would begin.
The administration has come under pressure as the number of migrants seeking to enter the country through the southwestern border has increased. Border Patrol agents stopped migrants more than 1.1 million times from January to June, up nearly a third from the same period in an already high 2021.
Many migrants are being turned away due to COVID-19 restrictions. But many are allowed entry and are detained while their cases are processed through immigration courts or are released and required to periodically check in with ICE officers until a judge rules on their case.
Those most likely to be released in the United States come from countries where deportation under public health orders is complicated due to cost, logistics or strained diplomatic relations, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
At shelters, bus stations and airports along the US-Mexico border, migrants carefully keep their papers in plastic folders. These are often the only documents they have to pass through airport checkpoints to their final destination in the United States. Often dog-eared papers can be essential for getting around.
An immigration case can take years and the system can be confusing, especially for immigrants who know little English and may need to work with a range of government agencies, including ICE and United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS), which issues work permits and green certificates. maps. US immigration courts are overseen by the Department of Justice.
Gregory Z. Chen, senior director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the migrants mistakenly went to ICE offices instead of court for scheduled hearings which they later missed. He said that as long as immigrants’ privacy is protected, the card could be useful.
“Whether ICE is going to use this new technology to allow non-citizens to register with ICE, or report information about their location and address, and then receive information about their case – where their hearings might be, what the requirements might be for them to comply with the law — that would be a welcome approach,” Chen said.
It was unclear whether Homeland’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would accept the cards for airport travel or whether private companies would consider them valid.
The United States does not have a national photo ID. Residents instead use a range of cards to prove their identity, including driver’s licenses, state IDs, and consular IDs. What constitutes valid identification is often determined by the entity seeking to verify a person’s identity.
Talia Inlender, associate director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, said she was skeptical that using a card to access electronic documents would simplify the process for immigrants, especially those navigating the system without a lawyer, and asked if the card has technology that could be used to increase government surveillance of migrants.
But having ID could be useful, especially for migrants who need to travel to the United States, Ms Inlender said.
“Many people are fleeing persecution and torture in their country. They don’t show up with government papers,” Ms Inlender said. “Having some form of identification to be able to move through everyday life has the potential to be a useful thing.”
Some Republican lawmakers worry the cards could entice more migrants to come to the United States or seek access to benefits to which they are not entitled. A group of 16 lawmakers sent a letter last week to ICE raising questions about the plan.
“The administration is reportedly planning a reckless new policy that will further escalate this ongoing crisis,” the letter said.
This story was reported by the Associated Press.