There's a growing list of things to be concerned about if the immigration bill in anything close to its present form should become law. One feature that has been added to attract right wing votes is the militarization of the border between the US and Mexico. As part of that effort it appropriates billions of dollars to develop and implement all sorts of new security features.
The US Congress is planning a dramatic expansion of surveillance measures along the border with Mexico including round-the-clock use of unmanned aerial drones and radar systems developed by the military in Afghanistan as part of the package of comprehensive immigration reform.It doesn't require much creativity to push the notion that undocumented migrants pose an alien threat close that that of the dreaded menace of terrorism. Once again the fear is being invoked to persuade Americans of the necessity of sitting by passively while their civil liberties and privacy are compromised just a little bit more. There is nothing here to guarantee that the use of these "innovations" will be confined to the southern side of the border. Let's take a look as the possibilities for the nifty all new and improved social security card.
The immigration reform bill currently being debated in the US Senate sets aside up to $6bn over five years to pay for a massive injection of surveillance technology along the south-western border. That includes $1bn to develop a new fool-proof social security card and other proposals to expand federal access to databases storing biometric and photographic records on American citizens and undocumented immigrants alike.
The senate bill, S 744, allocates $1bn in the 2014 budget to develop "fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant, wear-resistant, and identity theft-resistant social security cards". The bill does not specify how those criteria will be met, but experts in identity technology point out that in previous debates Congress has focused on the use of biometric data such as digital photos, fingerprints and iris scans.This would turn the once innocuous social security card into a national identity card and internal passport. It offers immense possibilities for collecting and storing personal data about all Americans.
Margaret Hu, a specialist in biometric digital surveillance at Duke university, said that the bill's ambition to create a fool-proof social security card posed dangers for the general public. "If it is used to create a universal and digitalised biometric database through the collection of digital photos, fingerprint or iris scans, this could be used as a cyber-surveillance tool that could significantly impact the lives of all Americans."
The importation of military technology developed in the war zone is no coincidence: as the Obama administration continues to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan, military contractors and arms manufacturers are increasingly looking for a new market to exploit, and the large sums Congress is considering pumping into border security provides an obvious alternative.The military industrial complex is a hungry critter that must be fed. They have already made a bundle off of militarizing the nation's police force. The remit of the greatly expanded border patrol would be expanded to cover all areas within 100 miles of national borders. That would cover the residence of two thirds of all Americans.
"We are at the tip of the iceberg here," said Mary Cummings, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "They don't have total coverage of the southern border with unmanned vehicles, but they could and I suspect they will. It's going to change the way that customs operates, though I don't think they realise that yet."