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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yet Again with the National ID

Fresh from their defeat in forcing national identity papers on us with REAL ID, the feds are trying once more. Their plea this time isn’t terrorism but immigration—though they’re pretty much the same, according to the State.

Introduced in 2005 to combat the waves of terrorists thronging our shores, REAL ID was supposed to thwart the bad guys by transforming our drivers’ licenses into a national ID card. We’d have submitted this card on demand to government’s agents—as do the victims in totalitarian regimes. Never mind that “almost no empirical research has been undertaken to clearly establish how identity tokens can be used as a means of preventing terrorism,” according to Privacy International, or that “terrorists have traditionally moved across borders using tourist visas,” unless they “are equipped with legitimate identification cards.” The 9/11 hijackers and the Madrid bombers, respectively, provide two recent examples.

Any Pretext Whatsoever

Governments itch to tag their subjects like so many cattle, on any pretext whatsoever. Ours thought it had a dandy excuse in the attacks of 9/11, and who can blame it? Many Americans would eagerly sell their few remaining liberties so long as a politician assured them that said sale secured the homeland. Ergo, the feds invented a bogus link between terrorism and America’s freedom from a national ID. They swore they’d prevent another 9/11 so long as we followed orders to carry “enhanced” drivers’ licenses.

Surprisingly, rebellion bloomed—and this among states that have supinely obeyed any number of anti-constitutional decrees since 1865. Fifteen passed legislation prohibiting their DMVs from turning licenses into a de facto national ID; another ten officially denounced REAL ID.

No matter: The feds slapped an alias on their failed legislation—PASS ID—and reintroduced it. But in case such cosmetics can’t con us, a couple of senators are aiming at the same goal via another American bugaboo: immigration.

Increased Workplace Patrols

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) propose to “reform” yet again the feds’ cruel and unconstitutional policies on immigration. Their national ID card piggybacks on Social Security cards rather than drivers’ licenses.

“The plan calls for a big increase in immigration agents patrolling workplaces,” the New York Times reported. The Bush administration already tried such raids; their inhumanity devastated whole towns, not just immigrants, and Obama’s government supposedly discontinued them. But senators seldom boast an enviable learning curve. Graham and Schumer would also “require all workers, including legal immigrants and American citizens, to present a tamper-proof”—that is, biometric—“Social Security card when they apply for jobs.”

In propaganda the Washington Post obligingly published, the senators wrote, “A tamper-proof ID system would dramatically decrease illegal immigration, experts have said, and would reduce the government revenue lost when employers and workers here illegally fail to pay taxes.” But, “there’s no such thing as a foolproof ID system,” as experts have also said. And “reducing lost government revenue” as a reason for national ID adds insult to injury. We should pack papers so the government can keep more of what it loots from us?

The senators also promise that though “we would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card,” we’re safe from bureaucratic prying because “no government database would house everyone’s information.” If you believe that, you no doubt believe as well that these politicians have only our best interests at heart, have studied rather than exploited this topic, and are competent to decide for us who our future neighbors, friends, and relatives will be.

Certainly, Graham and Schumer don’t have immigrants’ best interests at heart. Indeed, whether immigrants can live here is determined solely by whether we can use them to “ensur[e] America’s future economic prosperity.” Ergo, the senators’ “legislation would award green cards to immigrants who receive a Ph.D. or master’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. university. It makes no sense to educate the world’s future inventors and entrepreneurs and then force them to leave when they are able to contribute to our economy.”

Nationalist Agenda

Forget about those hungry, tired, and poor yearning to breathe free; the persecuted; and the tortured. If you can’t advance politicians’ nationalistic agendas, you won’t find a toe-hold here.

The senators aren’t content to menace only immigrants; they also threaten and penalize Americans who, unlike themselves, are productive: “Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the [national ID] cards through a machine”—and who pays for the gizmo?—“to confirm a person’s identity and immigration status. Employers who refused to swipe the card or who otherwise knowingly hired unauthorized workers would face stiff fines and, for repeat offenses, prison sentences.”

Our rulers have spent the last 150 years ginning up fear of immigrants, pitting established Americans against newcomers, contriving a hobgoblin from which they squawk about rescuing us. They’ve succeeded so well that modern Americans happily don chains so long as it means immigrants wear them, too. National ID, raids on offices and factories, a wall on our southern border: Nothing is too dictatorial when it comes to controlling migration.

Schumer and Graham are betting Americans’ fear of immigrants outweighs their love of liberty. Tragically, that looks like a winning wager.