The U.S. Homeland Security Department has finalized rules requiring 750,000 port workers in the United States to pass an extensive background check and carry a special identification card.
Beginning in March, workers will have to show they are legally allowed to work in the United States, have not been convicted of a serious crime and have no ties to terrorism. They would be issued a special identification card that includes a digital photograph and a fingerprint. The cards will cost as much as $159, and are valid for up to five years.
Union leaders representing the port workers say the fees are too high, and complain there is no permanent system in place to electronically scan the ID cards.
A top Homeland Security official, Transportation Security Administration head Kip Hawley, says Coast Guard patrols will check the cards using handheld devices.
The new regulations will take effect at a few selected ports, then will expand nationwide over the next 18 months.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.