Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Identity Cards Suggested to Deter Illegal Aliens from Taking US Jobs Counterfeit-Proof Social Security Cards for All Citizens Mentioned

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Identity Cards Suggested to Deter Illegal Aliens from Taking US Jobs Counterfeit-Proof Social Security Cards for All Citizens Mentioned

Article excerpt

ILLEGAL aliens are taking hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, but overwhelmed federal law enforcement officials say they don't have the manpower to stop it.

One possible solution: a national ID card that every American would be required to show when applying for work.

National ID cards, debated in Washington for a decade, are strongly opposed by civil libertarians. But there are reports this week that the bipartisan US Commission on Immigration Reform has gotten a favorable response from the White House on the concept.

The growing federal frustration over illegal aliens is reflected by Jack Shaw, top investigator for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Mr. Shaw says he currently has 23,000 active reports of aliens working illegally at companies in the US. Yet he has only 350 inspectors to check them out.

In Florida, where illegal migrants work in restaurants, farms, and factories, Mr. Shaw has only 25 investigators in Miami, 5 in Jacksonville, and 4 in Tampa to cover the entire state.

"We could go around the corner and stumble into that many drug traffickers in a given day in Miami," Shaw says. Yet in Miami, there are "thousands of {illegal} aliens seeking positions, seeking jobs."

Shaw and other officials at INS say they need urgent help from Congress. Shaw estimates it would take about 1,000 agents - triple the current number - to solve the illegal hiring problem.

Even then, it would be difficult. Aliens are using increasingly sophisticated counterfeit documents to gain employment. Shaw says without a better ID system, such as a counterfeit-proof social security card, employers have no way of knowing who is legal and who is not.

When Congress outlawed the hiring of illegal aliens in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, INS began with more than 500 investigators to check for undocumented workers. But there has been a steady erosion. And some of the current 350 agents are sidetracked working on another urgent problem - deportable criminal aliens.

"Congress writes wonderful laws," Shaw says. "We had an antidrug-abuse act in 1986, immigration reform in 1986, {another} antidrug-abuse act in 1988, and {another} immigration act in 1990. …

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