30 Apr 2010


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When Republicans are doing bad things, you can count on democrats to offer to go them one better.

The Hill:

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

The proposal is one of the biggest differences between the newest immigration reform proposal and legislation crafted by late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The national ID program would be titled the Believe System, an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment.

It would require all workers across the nation to carry a card with a digital encryption key that would have to match work authorization databases.

“The cardholder’s identity will be verified by matching the biometric identifier stored within the microprocessing chip on the card to the identifier provided by the cardholder that shall be read by the scanner used by the employer,” states the Democratic legislative proposal. …

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who has worked on the proposal and helped unveil it at a press conference Thursday, predicted the public has become more comfortable with the idea of a national identification card.

“The biometric identification card is a critical element here,” Durbin said. “For a long time it was resisted by many groups, but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification.

“People understand that in this vulnerable world, we have to be able to present identification,” Durbin added. “We want it to be reliable, and I think that’s going to help us in this debate on immigration.”


Ezra Klein offers details of the democrat plan, and actually identifies the important irony. Note that all this does not give the ephebe Ezra any particular problem personally.

The Democrats’ immigration-reform proposal (pdf) is 26 pages long. Pages 8 through 18 are devoted to “ending illegal employment through biometric employment verification.” I don’t think the Democrats are going to like me calling this a biometric national ID card, as they go to great lengths to say that it is not a national ID card, and make it “unlawful for any person, corporation; organization local, state, or federal law enforcement officer; local or state government; or any other entity to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes.”

But it’s still a biometric national ID card. It’s handed out by the Social Security Administration and employers are required to check it when hiring new employees. Essentially, if you want to participate in the American economy, you need this card. “Within five (5) years of the date of enactment, the fraud-proof social security card will serve as the sole acceptable document to be produced by an employee to an employer for employment verification purposes,” the bill says. “This requirement will exist even if the employer does not yet possess the capability to electronically verify the employee by scanning the card through a card reader.”

The theory here is simple: Illegal immigration is a problem because illegal immigrants can get jobs. As the bill says, “in order to prevent future waves of illegal immigration, this proposal recognizes that no matter what we do on the border, our ports of entry, and in the interior, we will not be completely effective unless we can prevent the hiring, recruitment, or referral of unauthorized aliens in America’s workplaces. Jobs are what draw illegal immigrants to the United States.” …

The oddity of this strategy, of course, is that anti-immigration sentiments run highest among the same communities that are most opposed to national ID cards. Now, it’s also the case that if you’re going to support citizenship searches for people with Hispanic-looking shoes, it’s a bit odd to worry about an ID card to verify employment. But even so, without Republicans on the bill to give this strategy cover, it’ll be interesting to see whether the anti-immigrant right embraces the ID card as a way of staunching the flow of illegal immigrants or assails Democrats for trying to create a biometric police state.

One Feedback on "Inevitably"


Well, I’d be doomed, as I lose my work ID already (something to do with the feminine tendency to coordinate handbags and coats and change same with season, whim, outfit).

My concern about it is that, of course, it would not be used simply to verify that one is legal to be employed. It’s a bit like those stupid EZY pass things going thru toll booths. After years of swearing as I scrambled to find money for the extortionate NY and NJ tolls on the way to the brat’s college, I got the EZY pass. SO now Big Brother knows where I go and when, etc. Now, why they should care, God alone knows…

Apart from privacy concerns (I suspect a GPS chip will be put in to track one, and that one will end up being required to use it like a time card at work, etc. ), there is the dread issue of operator error in the process of the data input, and the likelihood of glitches in the system. I have worked in places that issue thousands of a different kind of ID card a season and inevitably a certain percentage register as expired or with a hold or whatever. But to the hapless carriers of the ID there is no clue that something got programmed wrong. At least with a card SOcial Security card, the bearer can see if there is a problem.

I still prefer a card to the other idea I have heard some moonbats tossing around, of a microchip implant in each of us. As if we were all wicked straying dogs that had to be kept track of at all times….

There was an interesting post here http://ragamuffinstudies.blogspot.com/2010/04/on-border-bleeding-arizona.html by a friend with a Libertarian perspective on the Arizona law. I’m personally for the law (having just been in Arizona for a visit, it is needed) but the post makes some good points.

In effect, it’s as if the principal and security personnel ostensibly keeping a school functioning smoothly and safely were off prattling drunkenly to any fools who’d listen in the gym, while a bunch of burglars were breaking into the science lab. ANd a bunch of husky teachers and football jocks decide that something must be done. They may well take an overly aggressivee stance towards the burglars, but they wouldn’t have needed to if those meant to be safeguarding the place had been doing their job. And winking at lawbreakers and sucking up to them as potential voters is not exactly upholding the law.

Sorry to rant, but my dad was a legal immigrant. Worked his way thru Harvard and the B School doing all kinds of menial work, served as a US Naval officer durnig the 50s, went into civilian life in finance, built up a company…Loved this country, taught us to honor it. refused to hold on to a hyphenated identity (former Brit).


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