In a New York Law Journal column (subscription required) that Yale-Loehr co-authored with Ted J. Chiappari summarizing the current proposal, they write:
"The proposed [electronic verification system] could be the sleeper issue in the immigration reform debate, since it would affect all American workers, not just noncitizens. For example, the bill would require the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue fraud-resistant Social Security cards within two years after enactment. The bill also requires the SSA to consider adding biometric information to Social Security cards. This could effectively make Social Security cards a national ID card."
That assumes such a system could be built. The San Francisco Chronicle has a good piece on how incredibly difficult such an electronic verification system would be to build and keep secure. Here's one cut:
"Speaking for the Association for Computing Machinery, a scientific and educational group, [Peter Neumann, principal scientist at the Computer Science Laboratory] said lawmakers frequently have outsized expectations of technological fixes for social problems."
Very true. Given how sensitive consumers wary of identify theft are getting about their Social Security numbers, it seems unlikely that this system, even if it's enacted, would evolve into the kind of "national ID card" that privacy advocates fear. More worrisome are the practical concerns. There are reasons to doubt that the feds could pull off such a complicated and security-sensitive system at all; there's no reason to believe it could happen in two years from enactment of such a law. Hopefully something more realistic emerges from the coming renewed debate.