In a move to tighten the nation’s security, federal officials announced the launch Wednesday of a worker identification program that would eventually require background checks and identification cards for 6 million truck drivers, dock workers and cargo handlers at U.S. ports, airports and railways. The Los Angeles Times reports the new security effort will begin on a trial basis at three dozen sites throughout the country, including Los Angeles International Airport, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and eight other port-related locations in Southern California.
About 200,000 workers at these places will be required to undergo federal background checks to determine whether they have criminal records or are included on any terrorism-related watch lists. They also will be issued identification cards required for entry to sensitive transportation hubs. The cards will be linked to an individual’s “biometric” imprint – either a fingerprint, a handprint or an iris scan of the eye – so that lost or stolen cards cannot be used by anyone else. An official in the Department of Homeland Security called the ID program “a significant enhancement that will prevent terrorists and other unauthorized persons from gaining access to sensitive areas of the nation’s transportation system.”