Aligning Identification Credentials and Employment Verification with Immigration Reform, a Smart Card Alliance White Paper

Aligning Identification Credentials and Employment Verification with Immigration Reform, a Smart Card Alliance White Paper

Princeton Junction, N.J., May 14, 2010–An essential element for effective U.S. immigration reform is providing a way to securely verify an individual’s identity, immigration status and employment eligibility. Currently, the system relies on the three basic American identity documents–birth certificates, state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and Social Security cards–which are easily and widely counterfeited. This conclusion is evident from the failure of immigration reform laws already in effect since 1986, and by reforms recommended in the report of the 9/11 commission as well.

A strong identity credential that cannot be forged or used by someone other than its owner can be achieved today, however, by adding smart card and biometric technology to federal government issued identity credentials. A new white paper, from the Smart Card Alliance Identity Council, provides considerations for stakeholders seeking effective solutions to the problem of secure, accurate identity verification.

“It is crucial for government policy makers to understand the importance of identity management in addressing immigration challenges,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. “As the national immigration agenda moves forward, a solid, standards-based identity management foundation is needed . Our white paper provides factual information on why smart card and biometric technologies are the best choices for trusted identity documents that protect people’s identities and enable secure identity verification.”

The report, “Securing Identity and Enabling Employment Verification: How Do Immigration Reform and Citizen Identification Align?,” explains how an upgraded Social Security card incorporating biometric identity credentials could enable an authentication process that will benefit workers, employers and government. Biometric identifiers link identity to the physical person, providing “something you are” as part of the identification process. A secure electronic credential also protects the security and privacy of personal and biometric data stored on the card.

Such a credential would enable three things:

  1. Protects privacy: Individuals keep possession of the card and control who can access information; the computer in the card protects personal information
  2. Prevents forgery: Electronic authentication processes prove the legitimacy of the card
  3. Confirms the person’s identity: Biometric authentication processes prove the card belongs to the bearer by using the person’s physical body, the true basis for everyone’s identity

The paper presents in easily understood terms how smart card and biometric technologies work and why they provide such a high level of confidence in the identity of the document holder. Other topics include:

  • How an enhanced Social Security card could facilitate immigration reform
  • How existing Federal government standards can be leveraged to create an effective immigration identity management infrastructure
  • Example use cases for issuance and identity verification
  • An example process for upgrading the Social Security card

“Our members clearly understand the importance of taking all aspects of the issue of immigration reform into consideration when making decisions and setting policy. But it is evident that a strong, verifiable identity credential tightly tied to its bearer is essential to the success of any initiative. What this paper makes clear is that these goals can be achieved using proven smart card and biometric technologies and existing federal government identity documents standards,” said Vanderhoof.

Identity Council members who were involved in the development of this white paper included: CardLogix; Cogent Systems; Deloitte & Touche, L.L.P., Audit & Enterprise Risk Services; Gemalto; IBM; Identification Technology Partners; IDmachines; IQ Devices;
L-1 Identity Solutions.

The full white paper, Securing Identity and Enabling Employment Verification, is available online.

About the Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit