One of two initiatives in Congress, which may never see the light of day, would replace the flimsy social security card with a biometric ID that employers would be required to verify before employing anybody.
National ID: Biometrics Pinned to Social Security Cards
The Social Security card faces its first major upgrade in 70 years under two immigration-reform proposals slated for debate this week that would add biometric information to the card and finally complete its slow metamorphosis into a national ID.
The leading immigration proposal with traction in Congress would force employers to accept only a very limited range of approved documents as proof of work eligibility, including a driver's license that meets new federal Real ID standards, a high-tech temporary work visa or a U.S. passport with an RFID chip. A fourth option is the notional tamper-proof biometric Social Security card, which would replace the text-only design that's been issued to Americans almost without change for more than 70 years.
A second proposal under consideration would add high-tech features to the Social Security card allowing employers to scan it with specially equipped laptop computers. Under that proposal, called the "Bonner Plan," the revamped Social Security card would be the only legal form of identification for employment purposes.
Neither bill specifies what the biometric would be, but it could range from a simple digital photo to a fingerprint or even an iris scan. The proposals would seem to require major changes to how Social Security cards are issued: Currently, new and replacement cards are sent in the mail. And parents typically apply for their children before they're old enough to give a decent fingerprint.
There are also logistical problems to overcome before forcing all of the nation's employers to verify a biometric card -- given the nation has millions of employers, many of whom may not have computer equipment at all....