The Biden administration has proposed a new national identification card system for undocumented immigrants. The “ICE Secure Docket Card program” would give migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border and other immigrants without legal status temporary ID cards (and in turn, a legal way to identify themselves) as they navigate their immigration cases or removal court proceedings.
The details of the pilot program have not been finalized, but the ID cards (named “Secure Docket Cards”) are likely to include a photo, biographical information, and a QR code that would allow the holder to access their court information and immigration documents online. The program is designed to lessen the bureaucratic burden of the immigration system, as historically immigrants have had to wait in long lines for court hearings or physically “check-in” at government offices at various steps in the process. A national ID system is likely to streamline the current immigration system and increase efficiency and communication between undocumented immigrants, law enforcement officers, and government officials.
The proposed ID cards would also ease everyday life in the U.S. for undocumented immigrants. Individuals who do not have legal identification generally have a harder time accessing necessities such as housing, healthcare, transportation, and state benefit programs. The ID cards could potentially allow undocumented immigrants to travel by plane within the U.S. more easily as well, if accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA currently accepts some types of immigration documents as valid identification for travel.
The Biden administration has allocated $10 million for the pilot program in the upcoming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill. Democrats need congressional approval before the end of September 2023 in order to make the proposed plan a reality.