By Zachary Stieber
President Joe Biden’s administration has confirmed a plan that would give identification cards to illegal immigrants.
The pilot program from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is aimed at modernizing “documentation provided to some noncitizens,” an ICE spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email on July 29.
“Currently, noncitizens receive paper documents from the federal government about their immigration status. Paper documents pose a security risk, are easily lost, and degrade rapidly in real-world use, creating inefficiencies for the government and noncitizens. Moving 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,” the spokesperson said.
“For provisionally released noncitizens, the digital modernization will provide ongoing access to important immigration documents through the secure card and connected portal.”
DHS is the Department of Homeland Security, ICE’s parent agency. FOIA refers to the Freedom of Information Act.
The program is being described as a concept, with specifics still being decided.
Illegal immigrants who cross the border are supposed to be deported or detained until they appear in court, but that’s increasingly not the case.
A recent ICE program, called Alternatives to Detention, colloquially known as “catch and release,” sees many immigrants released before having a hearing. Many, but not all, are given a Notice to Appear, or a notice to show up at court on a certain date.
The Biden administration said in April it was going to release up to 600,000 illegal immigrants in the coming months amid the unprecedented surge in illegal immigration while a watchdog report released in June showed that the government is utilizing the program more as time goes on.
Some Republicans are expressing worries about the program, saying that the Biden administration should work on cracking down on illegal immigration instead of making it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain identification.
“We are concerned that this pilot program is yet another Biden Administration move encouraging illegal immigration by rewarding illegal immigrants for breaking our laws,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) wrote to acting ICE Director on July 29.
Under President Joe Biden, the United States has relaxed or reversed a number of Trump-era immigration policies.
The congressmen cited reports that said the card could let illegal immigrants travel by plane and receive benefits through certain aid programs, writing that the issuance of the cards “raises the possibility that illegal aliens will use these identification cards to improperly access benefits such as housing, healthcare, and transportation.”
Comer and Grothman asked for a briefing on the program as soon as possible and for documents and communications concerning the pilot by Aug. 12.
The ICE spokesperson said that the card “will not be an official form of federal identification” and “would be provided only after national security background checks have been performed.”
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) is also worried about the program.
He said on Newsmax on Friday that he is working on a bill that would block the Biden administration from issuing the cards.
“They’re illegal, undocumented. The only thing they should be able to access is a trip back across the border,” Van Drew said.
“So I’m doing legislation that is saying not one American tax dollar, or for that matter, any American dollar, can be spent for these cards,” he added.