Civil libertarians have plenty to be concerned about these days. The Bush administration is notoriously negligent toward individual rights, using the excuse of the “global war on terror” to justify any intrusion it pleases into the personal affairs of citizens and noncitizens alike.
Legitimate concerns about illegal immigration may be exploited to further erode our freedoms. It has been a point of pride that Americans are not burdened by such requirements as the “papers” long favored by totalitarian regimes. I'm talking about internal visas or domestic passports that you are required to produce whenever any government agent demands it: “Your papers, please.” The “please” is just for show, of course. As some people try to hype the immigration situation into a clear and present national crisis, demands have been heard for increased use of ID cards. I've noticed a particular phrasing popping up in the debate. Perhaps it is a new talking point from the GOP National Committee, rolled out, snapped up, and mindlessly repeated by those in their thrall. Or maybe Rush used the words on the radio and his ditto-heads are playing monkey-see-monkey-do.
The magic phrase is “tamper-proof ID.” It appeared in two different letters in The Bee earlier this week (and I underlined the words for you below). From the May 29, 2006, Letters to the Editor:
Hello? Hello? “Tamper-proof”? Is that like “fail-safe” or “kid-proof” or “sure thing”? Do you even have a clue? These things don't exist. If you think we can make the best of a bad bargain and agree to universal ID cards because that would at least end our illegal immigration difficulties, wake up! You'll get stuck with the necessity of carrying an ID at all times and it won't solve the problem. Sure, it will make forged identity materials a little more difficult for a while and a little more expensive for those who need to acquire false documentation. But tamper-proof?
The tamper-proof solution
After reading the provisions of both the Senate and House bills on immigration, one glaring fact remains: If you want to illegally immigrate to this country, all you have to do is make it over the border. You don't even have to cross the desert. Just obtain a visa and simply over stay. Want to work? Just show your phony ID to the prospective employer and submit a phony Social Security number. It's worked for more than 7 million illegals. Want welfare? Just start having babies, who are U.S. citizens, and start collecting food stamps and Medi-Cal.
Given the fact that more than half of the population of Mexico and Central America wants to come here, this is just the beginning. Trust me, in another five years we will be having the same debate about what to do with another 7 million illegal immigrants. The only solution is a tamper-proof ID for legal workers and strict enforcement of employer sanctions.
W.J. Sullivan, Carmichael
A simple solution
There is a simple solution to the immigration “problem” which could be implemented in less than a year. It consists of simple elements:
• All noncitizens are issued a tamper-proof ID card if residency legally allowed.
• All citizens must obtain a passport.
• Employers are fined $10,000 per employee who can't produce a valid passport or ID and isn't in a national database of valid holders.
• A noncitizen registered to vote and voting is deported upon conviction.
• All educational and health and welfare services paid for exclusively via sales tax revenues to ensure all pay their fair share.
Of course, the open-border folks think anything short of welcoming all is racism, but what they really fear is a loss of votes from those illegally voting for their candidates.
Jerry Pasek, Rancho Murieta
Give me a break.
Update: Well, that didn't take long. The June 5, 2006, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle carries an Associated Press story whose eye-catching headline is “In a world of phony documents, a national ID isn't exactly scary.” Now, what did I tell you? The story carries Peter Prengaman's byline. Here are the first paragraphs:
Got it? The “tamper-proof” national ID is not a solution—it's an illusion!
LOS ANGELES—Luis Hernandez just laughs as he sells fake driver's licenses and Social Security cards to illegal immigrants near a park known for shady deals. The joke—to him and others in his line of work—is the government's promise to put people like him out of business with a tamperproof national ID card.
“One way or another, we'll always find a way,” said Hernandez, 35, a sidewalk operator who is part of a complex counterfeiting network around MacArthur Park, where authentic-looking IDs are available for as little as $150.