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FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are expressing concern about the security and cost implications of a plan being developed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that would see illegal immigrants given ID cards as part of plans to modernize paperwork.
“We are concerned that this pilot program is yet another Biden Administration move encouraging illegal immigration by rewarding illegal immigrants for breaking our laws,” the 16 Republicans, led by Reps. James Comer and Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., say in a letter to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.
ICE confirmed this week that the program — called the ICE Secure Docket Card program — is part of a pilot program the agency says will “modernize various forms of documentation provided to provisionally released noncitizens through a consistent, verifiable, secure card.”
The new ID card will contain a photograph, biographic identifiers and what ICE calls “cutting-edge security features to the mutual benefit of the government and noncitizens.”
The ID would be given to migrants who are released in the U.S. as their asylum cases are heard by the immigration system — a process that can take over five years. Currently, they are released with a number of different forms.
An ICE spokesperson said Friday that “it is important to note the secure card will not be an official form of federal identification. The secure card will indicate it is for use by DHS agencies and would be provided only after national security background checks have been performed.”
“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,” the spokesperson said. “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. For provisionally released noncitizens, the digital modernization will provide ongoing access to important immigration documents through the secure card and connected portal.”
ICE believes that the card will allow for officers in the field to easily verify an illegal immigrant’s identity and whether or not they are deportable. The card could in turn be used by the migrant to check in and schedule reporting dates with ICE offices, as well as hearing dates for immigration court.
In the letter, obtained by Fox News Digital, the lawmakers say that the program “is apparently intended to permit illegal aliens to check in with ICE virtually instead of physically reporting to an ICE office” and note that many illegal immigrants fail to check in as required as part of the Alternatives to Detention program (ATD).
“The ATD program’s failure to ensure illegal immigrants report to ICE is not a reason to issue them identification cards hoping the statistics improve, but instead an indication that more of these illegal border crossers should be detained during the pendency of removal proceedings,” they write.
The lawmakers also express concern about reports that the card will include QR codes that link to court documents and other information that they say raises security concerns “as well as questions regarding the likelihood that significant taxpayer resources will be diverted from immigration enforcement to uploading documents into and maintaining a secure system.”
“Finally, the issuance of ID cards raises the possibility that illegal aliens will use these identification cards to improperly access benefits such as housing, healthcare, and transportation,” they write.
The lawmakers request all communications on the program and documents related to cost estimates for implementation and maintenance.
Republicans have been calling for answers on a number of Biden-era immigration policies and moves — including most recently the ousting of Trump-appointed immigration judges at the Department of Justice.
On Friday, the House Republican Conference unveiled a sweeping policy framework to secure the border and close asylum loopholes that they say has encouraged hundreds of thousands of migrants to make the journey to the border.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has sought to tackle “root causes” of the crisis like poverty and violence in Central America — while also claiming that the southern border is “secure.”