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Government Disagrees with Itself about Copying Military IDs

September 11, 2018
 
What happens when one arm of the federal government says no to a compliance practice while another says yes?
 
One such case involves the photocopying of a military identification by an employer as part of the documentation process of the Form I-9, which verifies an employee’s work status.
 
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regularly recommend that employers photocopy identification forms used with the I-9. 
 
But an AIM-member employer was recently told by an employee that it is illegal to photocopy a military ID. Back in 2011, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) issued an announcement reminding all personnel that the photocopying of military identification cards is strictly prohibited.  
 
Here is the summary: 
 
The announcement notes that there have been recent incidents reported of commercial establishments photocopying U.S. government identification to verify military affiliation or provide government rates for service. These incidents are a violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 701 and are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. 
 
Although commercial establishments may request to see military/government identification, they may not photocopy or duplicate it in any way. Many military personnel and commercial establishments are unaware of the prohibition and the reasons it exists, which results in this being a fairly common practice. 
 
The only exception to this policy, covered in DOD Instruction 1000.13, Section 6.1.7, is that civilian and military medical providers are authorized to photocopy military ID as proof of insurance for the purposes of providing medical care to DoD beneficiaries. 
 
Because of the access the cards grant, criminal elements and terrorist organizations place obtaining U.S. government identifications at a premium when planning acts against the U.S. military. If a copied military or government identification fell into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster for the Armed Forces and the nation.
 
Unfortunately, there are no safeguards in place to prevent a counterfeit military/government identification card from being produced based on a photocopy provided to a commercial establishment. For this reason, personnel are requested to remain vigilant in ensuring they do not allow anyone to photocopy their identification cards. 
 
CNIC recommends that all personnel, both military and civilian, provide a state driver’s license or other form of photo identification to be photocopied when there is a request for such information by a commercial establishment. 
 
What’s the problem?
 
While the military says no, the USCIS says yes. The I-9 Central Web page states that it is permissible to photocopy the military ID. https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/questions-and-answers. 
 
The conflict between government agencies invites inconsistency. If an employer photocopies all ID documents and then unexpectedly doesn’t make a copy of the military ID, it is likely to raise concerns with an ICE investigator about the employer’s documentation practices.
 
It may make sense to photocopy the military ID to be consistent with your practice. Or, if that option makes you uncomfortable, consider asking the employee to produce another List B document that can be photocopied as noted in the final sentence of the announcement. On the other hand, inform the employee that a List A document would also address the issue as there would be no question of an employer being able to photocopy it. 
 
Contact the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277 with questions about HR compliance issues. 
 
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