Skip to main content

Immigration

ICE to develop ID cards for undocumented immigrants in pilot program

The new ID card would look like a regular photo ID and will include the migrant's photograph, identifiers, and "cutting-edge security features"

CBP officer registering migrants at border
CBP officer registering migrants at border | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

July 27, 2022 4:26am

Updated: July 27, 2022 8:20am

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to launch a pilot program that would give ID cards to undocumented immigrants as part of an effort to keep track of those who cross the border and are released into the country.

The agency claims that the “Secure Docket Card” program will "modernize various forms of documentation provided to provisionally released noncitizens through a consistent, verifiable, secure card."

The new ID card would look like a regular photo ID and will include the migrant's photograph, identifiers, and "cutting-edge security features to the mutual benefit of the government and noncitizens."

Some migrants that are apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border are not deported but instead are released into the U.S. while their asylum cases are being reviewed by authorities. However, this process can take years.

During that period, many migrants remain in limbo where they are still illegal aliens but are allowed to remain within the country. The Secure Docket Card could make it easier to find housing, healthcare, transportation, and other benefits, according to Axios.

The new ID card will also allow officers to easily verify a migrant's identity on-demand and determine whether they should be deported or not.

"Specifics of the program are still under development, but a primary goal of the SDC is to improve current, inconsistent paper forms that often degrade rapidly in real-world use," a spokesperson said in a statement. "Pending the outcome of the pilot, ICE will consider further expansion."

Additionally, the cards will also be used for migrants to check in and schedule reporting dates with ICE officers and immigration courts.

"Fifty percent of the problems that migrants have in just staying accountable in the process is because we're not communicating well," a DHS official said. "People are going to be smoothly, efficiently, humanely working through the immigration process."

The ID could also eventually be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to allow migrants to board planes without using civil immigration arrest warrants.

The measure comes as border patrol agents have intercepted an unprecedented number of migrants crossing the border. In June of this year, there were 207,000 migrant encounters, compared to 189,000 in June of last year.