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Immigration Reform Needs Solutions for Identity Crisis | Commentary

What will it look like to the Transportation Security Administration if these newly legalized immigrants travel in large numbers and start applying for TSA Pre-Check? How will they appear to U.S. Customs and Border Protection if they begin applying for Trusted Traveler programs? This leads us to even more complex questions such as how comprehensive immigration reform participants can access the IRS and the Social Security Administration to get credit for past tax filings and benefit account payments entered under a false identity. Without well-thought-out and well-publicized rules to apply to these coming scenarios, it is unlikely that the relevant government employees at any level will be able to navigate such complexities and interdependencies on their own.

Addressing the Identity Issue in Immigration Reform

As policymakers consider comprehensive immigration reform, they must acknowledge the identity and benefit fraud that has accompanied unlawful immigration over the decades. More importantly, policymakers should clearly state the consequences and remedies that stem from the past identity fraud as legalization applicants pursue subsequent benefits in this country. To maximize the benefit of comprehensive immigration reform to the nation, people need to register and verify their identity as quickly as possible. To achieve that, we must map out for them clearly and openly more than just the immediate first step.

Michael J. Petrucelli served as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and is currently the founder and executive chairman of Clearpath, an online immigration startup.

Lora Ries serves as senior principal, directing immigration reform strategy for Computer Sciences Corp.s North American Public Sector and its Border and Immigration Solutions Center of Excellence.

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