ACLU Opposes National ID System and Computer Registry
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 1995
WASHINGTON -- A number of immigration bills (including S.269 and H.R. 2202), and the Commission on Immigration Reform have proposed that the United States adopt a computer data base of every person in the United States to verify whether the person is eligible to work or is eligible for certain benefits.
In addition to legislative attacks on the due process rights of aliens, this idea is one of the most controversial proposals considered by Congress in the area of immigration. It would make citizens, as well as aliens, pay a huge price in terms of privacy.
"The national identification system is an idea whose time has definitely not come," said ACLU Legislative Counsel Gregory T. Nojeim. Adoption of a system that could track the employment of every person in the country, not just aliens, is not the way to deal with illegal immigration. The notion that an employer would have to get permission from a data base maintained by the Federal government to hire a person is a radical notion indeed.
"A national data base and ID system raises grave concerns about invasions of privacy and personal freedom and would be fraught with practical problems," Nojeim continued. Even if such a system could be maintained with an error rate of only 1%, hundreds of thousands of Americans would be denied employment opportunities annually when as a result of an error in the data base, they were deemed ineligible to work. Moreover, no system can be entirely free from abuse -- even the Pentagon's files have been accessed without authorization."
"These proposals would make workers in the U.S. human guinea pigs in pilot programs designed to test the national identification system. The proposed test projects are merely launching pads for a national computer registry and de facto ID system. The adoption of such a system will almost inevitably lead to the adoption of a national identification card," he said.