The first UK ID cards have been unveiled, and come into force from 25th November. The card will hold the holder’s photograph, name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and an electronic chip with biometric details, including fingerprints and digital facial image. All indefinitely held on the UK Identity and Passport Service database. 

Initially the ID cards will be issued to non-EU students and marriage visa holders then, foreign nationals wanting to enter the UK.  From next year other foreign nationals living in the UK will begin to be issued with ID cards. These groups will be forced to enrol on the scheme and use the card, rather than their passport, for identification,

Once migrants have been used to test the scheme, in 2009 anyone, regardless of nationality, who works in an area the government deems “sensitive” such as airports will be required to have an ID card. From 2010, students will need ID cards to get a student loan and they will be available to the rest of us on a “voluntary” basis, with them being paired with passports in 2011.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will produce the physical plastic cards, and use IBM to provide the technology. Foreign nationals who boycott the card could lose their right to stay. Those who refuse to make or turn up to an appointment to scan their fingerprints and facial image will face a £250 fine, rising to £1,000 for persistent refusal. Those who fail to tell police if they lose their ID card will face a fine of £125. Employers and sponsors of foreign nationals will be forced to keep records on them, including a copy of the employee’s ID card. Businesses found employing workers who do not have valid ID cards will face fines of up to £10,000 per person.

Nearly every section of society outside the government has voiced opposition to ID cards. Let no-one be fooled by this cynical nod to racism as anything other than an attempt to introduce ID cards by stealth. 

“The government is picking on soft targets — people who have no choice but to comply. They’re actually targeting people who are completely justified in being here.”
Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of No2ID

It is patently clear that this card is the thin end of the wedge, the first blow in an attack on civil liberties we all enjoy. The government is open about their plans, it wants everyone in the UK tagged, numbered and repressed, using migrants as a testing ground for it’s authoritarian desire to increase the size of the surveillance state. The opposition to ID cards must begin now.

No Borders South Wales will be holding a demonstration against the new ID laws on Saturday 4th October at 2pm outside the Passport Office, Olympia House, Upper Dock Street, Newport, NP20 1XA (map). Come and join us.

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