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Is a biometric, national ID card an immigration game changer?

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."

That's why some think the biometric ID card a game changer for immigration politics. Enforcement might be popular, but the public knows full well that it doesn't really work. As things stand, the border is pretty militarized but the flow of illegal immigrants hasn't stopped. By focusing on the employment prospects of illegal immigrants and forcing workplaces to use biometric identification, Democrats hope to convince people that they have a real strategy for ending the problem of illegal immigration. And if they can convince people of that, they think they can get a path to legalization for the existing community of illegal immigrants as a way to mop up the remainder of the problem.

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.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 30, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Immigration  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Like it or not, the 2010 election is now (substantially) about immigration
Next: Tom Toles is worth a thousand words


Hmmmm lets see.

Tonight Glenn Beck will be shouting about the Democrats urge to tag U.S. citizens.

Monday the NY Times will run an article about the "controversy"

Wednesday Ben Nelson will come out against it.

Friday the Democrats will drop it from their proposal.

Two months from now conservatives will still believe the Democrats proposed implanting micro-chip IDs under the cover of an immigration bill.

Posted by: nathanlindquist | April 30, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to hear the alternative to some form of biometric ID card in regards to employment enforcement. I understand objections regarding particular technologies--RFID is not practical for an ID card. I also understand that these cards will be forgeable. There is nothing that can be produced that cannot be reproduced. That having been said, a biometric ID card is a lot more complicated to reproduce than a laminated piece of cardboard.

On the other hand, I've never had any problem with a national ID card. Are you not who you are? Do you not want people to know who you are? If you don't want people to know who you are don't do anything that requires you present evidence of who you are. And when do you present it? When you apply for a job. When you have to present a ton of stuff for any legitimate job, anyway? They do background checks and credit reports. When I applied for this job I had a drug test and a physical and got fingerprinted. How is a national ID card any more intrusive?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 30, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I think this is all about branding (no pun intended)...

National ID card is not the right way to talk about it. It's already starting to gain traction in the media (there was a conservative on PBS News Hour last night railing against it, and Woodruff did not contest the idea that you would have to "carry it on you at all times").

Why can't we just refer to it as Social Security Card 2.0?

I believe conservatives loved e-verify, which is basically a fraud prone version of the SSN 2.0 card.

I want a new SSN card just because mine is so old and wrinkly, and never got laminated.

Posted by: cbaratta | April 30, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Technology will not solve our immigration problem. No matter what technology is used we still need the will to enforce the law. Right now there is no will because business owners want those low-wage employees, and those same business owners tend to be big players in politics. Nobody is seriously checking the employment status of people because that would anger those with political power. People will seek jobs where there is money, and employers will seek employees that cost less. It is directly analogous to the drug war. I say legalize immigrants and tax them, just like marijuana. Decriminalize people and you will have a better workforce, better working conditions, less crime, more taxpayers, etc.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | April 30, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

i love how naive some are to think that a biometric card will stop illegal immigration. Will it slow it, ya probably. Stop it, absolutely not. At least until the NEXT immigration reform proposal after this one passes (assuming that it does). I'm thinking that'll be around 2025 before we'll have a taste for it again.

That being said when we do the biometric card (which I'm fine with) can we in the interests of saving governmental time please also include the individuals medical history on there? I don't expect the government to be smart enough or have the political stomach to do this but it would be more efficient which means I'm sure it won't happen.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 30, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Rather than simply tattooing those with medical implants (see, perhaps everyone should be tattooed with a serial number. To really get the conversation started, the serial numbers could all begin with "666".

Kidding aside, though, the concept of a mandatory national ID card is probably going to sell not quite as well as mandatory national health insurance. Moreover, birth and death records are state matters, in part because the federal government has no general police power over the citizens of each state.

It is indeed a good pre-election topic, though.

Posted by: rmgregory | April 30, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

If I'm paying a guy cash, under the table (or even over it), to do some work for me, how is a national biometric ID card going to change anything?

Posted by: simpleton1 | April 30, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

The tea-partiers will resolve the conflict between their anti-government and anti-immigration positions by advocating that the biometric employee id card only be required for people with the wrong kind of shoes.

Posted by: exgovgirl | April 30, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Ezra says:
"As things stand, the border is pretty militarized but the flow of illegal immigrants hasn't stopped."

Perhaps I need to get out more but I haven't heard of any of our border being "pretty militarized".

Posted by: spamsux1 | April 30, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The ugly truth is that there's nothing "odd" about the inconsistency Ezra describes in his final paragraph. The people who most enthusiastically support "citizenship searches for people with Hispanic-looking shoes" do so in large part because they are (rightfully) confident that such a policy will not affect them. At the same time, those same people will likely oppose universal application of a national ID card system because they recognize that such a policy WILL affect them. The inconsistency may be morally bankrupt, but from a standpoint of naked self-interest, it makes perfect sense. There's nothing odd about it.

Posted by: addisonfgolladay | April 30, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Of course a security card can be forged or duplicated.

The card is a game-changer, however, because it shifts the focus from individuals to employers. It will be the employers job to check the card, do the paperwork, make sure their employees are legal immigrants. It'll be easier to verify compliance at the employer than at the individual level.

I'm not comfortable with the civil liberties ramifications of such an ID card as of yet, but I am 100% convinced that the way to solve the illegal immigration problem is at the employer level.

No illegal jobs = no illegal immigrants

Posted by: CarlosXL | April 30, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

There's some evidence that the increased border security has increased the immigrant population because people who twenty years ago would have kept their houses and families South of the border and just come over for picking season now face such high risks for crossing that they only do it once and therefore are forced to bring their family with them.

As for national ID cards, this is obviously yet more proof that Obama is the Anti-Christ.

Posted by: camipco | April 30, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

As someone said over at Megan's,

"Police state, n. A place where white people receive the same due process as brown people."

Posted by: wiredog | April 30, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

for all the talk on here of the inconsistency of the tea party that is valid a point is being missed.

How will the ACLU do the same when giving up privacy that a biometric card will give up for immigration reform. I'm sure they'll side with reform and overlook the lack of security within a biometric card but that's another query that needs to be asked.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Bruce Schneier has written about how biometrics can be more secure, but actually create nightmare scenarios with mass implementation. The problem is that the biometrics are hard to forge, BUT if there is identity theft on the database end, you cannot be issued new fingerprints or iris patterns or whatever in order to compensate.

There is a lot more that can be done on the employer end of enforcement before going this route. What this is basically doing is taking a new but inadequate technology, adding security theater mumbo-jumbo, to make people go along with something that could be done today with new rules and actual enforcment.

Posted by: maryarrrr | April 30, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

To reduce illegal immigration, make it not pay. If they can't earn they won't come, and this might help. We also need to penalize bosses who offer pay and conditions no documented worker would accept.

Posted by: WarrenTerra | April 30, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes. The tamper-proof biometric social security card will be THE big difference compared to Ronald Reagan's amnesty. If the Right is serious about enforcement, they should support this common sense approach.
And the immigrants are onboard, because they are used to governmental control. For instance, in Ecuador, you can be thrown in jail if you do not vote and the same if you do not pay child support. The Europeans are all used to different forms of national id cards and Asians are obviously used to much worse intrusion, for instance, the "one child" policy in China....

Posted by: mehuwss | April 30, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Ezra for the upteenth time the Right is not the only ones opposed to amnesty. You really should do some research more and more Blacks who no one would confuse as right wing are up in arms about amnesty.

You are being intellectually lazy by demeaning those opposed to amnesty as the anti-immigration right.

I am beginning to see why this paper is in financial trouble and Fox News is growing. People want unbiased news.

Posted by: cleancut77 | April 30, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

@simpleton1. A-MEN.

Nothing is "fraud-proof." Nothing is totally secure. It is all security theatre, and Bruce Schneier has it right -- as always.

How are my biometrics going to be established in this card, anyway? I was issued my SSN basically just after birth. Will my biometrics be stored at that point in my life? Or will it be like guys having to go down to the Post Office to register for Selective Service? What happens if I get married/divorced/witness protection-ed and change my name? Do I have to go through the whole rigamarole again? And you just KNOW married/divorced/witness protection-ed people will have HORRIBLE problems with double-entries, right?

Bad. Bad. Bad. Idea. We're not there yet.

Posted by: ajw_93 | April 30, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

The government is no position to take on something this big without messing it up technology wise. It's too corrupt. Look at how they deal with defense contracts, how they employ and hire contracting companies. Its mess - the dems need to get heads out of - whenever they are. Why would they put this in there when the technology is not there!!!???

Posted by: FredrickFred | April 30, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

This would be a game changer:

1) Let's not treat people as criminals for wanting economic opportunity in America. We should have relatively open borders. If you pass a background check and can find a job, you can have guest worker status, which can renew as long as you are employed (verified via payroll tax). After a year of guest worker status you can apply to become a permanent resident and can begin the process towards citizenship.

This will vastly reduce the proportion of immigrants coming in via illegal channels, making that problem more managable. Since most immigrants will now be legal, immigrants won't be as exploitable in terms of wages or working conditions vis a vis the native population, leveling the playing field for low skill labor.

Since for the most part only dangerous people (those with criminal backgrounds, suspected terrorists) will be coming in illegally, we can throw the book at these guys - 20 year imprisonment, rather than catch and release - without feeling all too bad about it.

Also, we should have fewer 'permanent' immigrants if entry to the country is easy, as right now illegal immigrants aren't going to want to go back and risk making the trip in again.

2) Immigrants get no social welfare benefits until they are citizens.

They can come here and work and contribute to our society, and we'll eventually let them be citizens, but they have to earn it. Guest workers will pay FICA, but not accrue Social Security benefits until they become permanent residents.

Non citizens don't have access to universal health care, but are encouraged to form private associations to help finance their own healthcare costs. Uninsured will be required to pay ER bills, in long-term installments if necessary. For complicated conditions, those without insurance can return to their home country for treatment without fear that they won't be let back in afterwards.

Children will be citizens and have access to educational and health programs for their own direct benefit.

3) End the drug war. Entirely. All drugs should be legalized. This will destroy the Mexican drug cartels' business model in record time, and make life on both sides of the border safer, and save money. Would probably improve the odds of a stronger Mexican economy.

The biometric ID card would be fine by me, other than maryarrrr's point about the data being compromised and having literally no way to prove that you are you. Any thoughts on how to overcome that?

Posted by: justin84 | April 30, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Illegal immig. is a "mind" problem: if people would simply go about opposing it in the right way we could greatly reduce it.

The reason why there's illegal immig. is because the establishment - including all the hacks at the WaPo, politicians, the rest of the MSM, and so on - supports it.

The establishment needs "little helpers" - like Ezra - to spread their message. If they can't find little helpers - because no one wants to put their career on the line - to push their agenda, it will be much, much more difficult for them to get what they want.

The way you do that is to help me discredit those little helpers. For instance, there's a list of those who've lied about the new AZ law here:

There are instructions on what to do in many of those, but for all of those you can help by linking the person's name to the post about them. That will help more people - hopefully those in their audience - see how they're lying. And, eventually, that will send a message and force a change in behavior.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | April 30, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"Why would they put this in there when the technology is not there!!!???"

This comment was hilarious. The USA sends out spacecraft to explore other planets, kills enemies with unmanned predator drones, sends people to an orbiting space station and brings them back safely, maps the human genome and produces new medical miracles every year, invades and occupies countries on the other side of the world, patrols the oceans with nuclear submarines, patrols the skies with stealth jets, generates atomic energy, etc. ... and yet this person thinks a tamper-proof biometric ID card is beyond our reach.

This person must really be concerned that such a primitive society as America maintains the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

I have mixed emotions about introducing the card, but inadequate technology is not among my concerns.

Posted by: Patrick_M | April 30, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

It is false to claim that "Essentially, if you want to participate in the American economy, you need this card". As simpleton1 mentioned above, such a card would not prevent undocumented aliens from taking cash jobs.

I was going to write that at worst, illegal immigrants would be consigned to the cash economy (if banks started requiring the ID) but I doubt that even that would happen; after all, there would be nothing to stop the undocumented from setting up banks and credit card accounts in their home countries.

The cards would have most impact if they were required for routine services - setting up an account with a power company for example. Even then, there are ways of circumventing the card - all you need is someone who trusts you to apply on your behalf. And after all, biometric identification data is not much use over the phone!

So, the main effect of the cards would be to inconvenience undocumented workers, and to make it harder for them to ascend the economic ladder (they would need to find a sympathetic and/or lazy employer who was prepared to overlook mismatching biometric data in order to take non-cash jobs) rather than to make their lives altogether intolerable.

Overall, apart from adding a much-needed level of bureaucracy to the hiring process, it's hard to think of a problem that the cards would solve.

Posted by: Unwisdom | April 30, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that an employment ID is one of several things that, when taken altogether, make it no longer worth it to come here illegally.

Increased border security is another piece. So is verifying eligibility for public programs, including health insurance. So is deportation if you have a run-in with the law and you're not supposed to be here.

Barring some pretty heavy-handed stuff, the "outside home depot" cash economy will likely remain to some degree, as long as living here is still fairly easy, or at least easier than where some people come from. An ID won't change that, but it will certainly limit people's options when they come here outside the system.

For the vast majority, when their fake social security cards don't work at McDonalds any more, day labor won't be worth it, and they'll head home or apply for a green card.

There is no one solution to this problem. If work is easy to get and the pay is decent, people will find a way in. I'm sure someone could come up with a purely military solution to this issue. It's physically possible, but most people won't like it.

In the end, you can't have total anonymity from the state and expect the state to be able to determine who's legal here and who isn't. Accepting this is part of citizenship to a nation, like it or not.

To the paranoid among us, I think they can find you already if you're posting here. Go off the grid and see how you fare on your own.

Myself: I'd rather have to show an employer some card when I start working and be done with it. With some other enforcement mechanisms, on the border and elsewhere, we can all be done with it and be on the way to a sane, rational approach to immigration.

Posted by: itstrue | April 30, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The theory here is simple: Illegal immigration is a problem because illegal immigrants can get jobs
No, illegal immigration is a problem because our "government" refuses to enforce our immigration laws.

It was not much of a problem 50 years ago, when our "government" was willing to enforce our immigration laws, and actually cared about representing the interests of the people who pay for it.

We don't need a national ID card. We need a government that puts Americans first, not last.

Posted by: MaryJessel | April 30, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"No, illegal immigration is a problem because our "government" refuses to enforce our immigration laws."

It's worth noting that governments often don't enforce the laws because employers need the cheap labor. Our economy is dependent on $5/hr labor. I don't like it either, but the arrangement is mutually beneficial, not parasitic. That's the dirty underbelly of a lot of this.

How do you expect the government to put Americans first if they can't tell who's an American and who isn't?

Unless you've got a different idea about who's American...

Posted by: itstrue | April 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"It's worth noting that governments often don't enforce the laws because employers need the cheap labor. Our economy is dependent on $5/hr labor. I don't like it either, but the arrangement is mutually beneficial, not parasitic. That's the dirty underbelly of a lot of this."

Exactly right.

When you eat a hamburger with lettuce and tomatato, the meat packing plant that the beef came from was very likely filled with undocumented workers, and they also probably picked your lettuce and your tomato. These folks are subsidizing low prices in many sectors of our economy, and there are not too many Americans that would willingly do some of these difficult and unpleasant jobs even at minimum wage.

If we want to set up a "Berlin Wall" all across our Southern Border and ensure that every worker in America is here legally and earning at least the minimum wage, there will be a significant cost to bear, both for the investment in that level of enforcement, and the changes it will produce in many sectors of the economy.

Posted by: Patrick_M | April 30, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

How do you expect the government to put Americans first if they can't tell who's an American and who isn't?

Unless you've got a different idea about who's American...

Posted by: itstrue | April 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse
Wow, pulled the race card! I never would have guessed that one! It's such an original tactic! It's not like we never hear that one around these parts, do we? I mean, you must have majored in rhetoric in college to have come up with that brilliant, unusual retort, right?

Do you think it's fair that an American citizen who has paid taxes to our "government" for 30 years, gets shafted while our "government" bends over backwards for a foreign lawbreaker who walked over the border five minutes ago?

'Cause if you do, I guess I won't sign my tax bill next year. The "government" can go and get the 65K I paid this year from that illegal immigrant the "government" thinks is so much more "valuable" as an American than I am.

Posted by: MaryJessel | April 30, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

These folks are subsidizing low prices in many sectors of our economy, and there are not too many Americans that would willingly do some of these difficult and unpleasant jobs even at minimum wage.
Not true. College and high school students did them for generations. I did them; my son did them; we all did them. Maybe your trust fund Daddy kept you from doing those kinds of jobs, but that doesn't mean everybody else has a trust fund Daddy to help them out.

Go up into the mountain towns in California and you can find plenty of Americans working as dishwashers.

PS -- We pay a lot more for those cheap tomatoes and burgers, once you factor in the increase in social spending, tax subsidies etc., caused by all that "cheap" labor.

Posted by: MaryJessel | April 30, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

"Not true. College and high school students did them for generations. I did them; my son did them; we all did them. Maybe your trust fund Daddy kept you from doing those kinds of jobs, but that doesn't mean everybody else has a trust fund Daddy to help them out."

You were a migrant farm worker and worked in a meat packing plant? You worked in the fields and in the slaughterhouse alongside a bunch of high school kids?

Posted by: Patrick_M | April 30, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Do you approve or disapprove of a "National ID Card'? Vote


Posted by: usadblake | April 30, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Sounds a bit Stalinist . Why would we want to emulate the USSR?

Posted by: dencal26 | April 30, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

A positive by-product of having a national ID would be to eliminate the need of having to register to vote. Everyone who has a national ID is automatically registered to vote. Other countries do things this way. Again, this can be a plus to the implementation of a national ID.

Posted by: crossingsg | April 30, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

@crossingsg: "A positive by-product of having a national ID would be to eliminate the need of having to register to vote. Everyone who has a national ID is automatically registered to vote."

(1) How would that determine in which state/county/city/precinct you should be registered? Your Social Security card establishes merely your *identity* (name and number) but does not list your address. If it *did* list your address, like a driver's license, it would have to be reissued every time you moved.

(2) You have the same Social Security number no matter whether or not you become a convicted felon who has lost the right to vote. Having that number is no proof of eligibility to vote, or to register to vote.

Posted by: Pyre | May 1, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

It is ironic that the reaction to a law requiring Arizona citizens to carry their papers at all times is to require a National Biometric ID, which of course will have to be carried at all times.

So not just Arizona will force you to have your papers but the Federal government as well. Does anyone realize that this is a big step towards the American Police State? This Bill would give government unprecedented control over "citizens".

And I thought I was lucky because I no longer live in Arizona!

Posted by: gink1 | May 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

A park park estimate on the cost of such a system is 13 billion dollars based upon the $132 charged for the federally mandated 5 year TWIC card, and 100 million workers.

Posted by: AndrewDover | May 1, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"It is ironic that the reaction to a law requiring Arizona citizens to carry their papers at all times is to require a National Biometric ID, which of course will have to be carried at all times."

Not really true at all, gink1.

The primary purpose of the card would be that employers would be required to check it (electronically) to verify an applicant's eligibilty to work legally in the USA before completing a hire. The use of the card is really a tool to be able to crack down on EMPLOYERS by creating a more fool proof system for them by which employees can be screened and verified for legal status.

I don't know of anyone who advocates the card who is also advocating a requirement that everyone be prepared to produce the card at all times; you would simply have it with you when applying for work, and it might also become a useful upgraded form of id for boarding airplanes, applying for passports, etc.

This concept is completely different from Arizona's SB 1070, where a warrantless arrest must occur upon a "reasonable suspicion" coupled with the failure to immediately produce papers that disprove the suspicion.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 1, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

honestly, what is it with you people? is it a generational thing that a lot of you seem to think it's o.k. for the state to keep records on you. it is not o.k. for the state to keep records on you.

i'm amazed at the willingness of people to pee in a cup, take lie detector tests, open your financial records, sign over your rights to representation, etc. when your employers (and, for that matter, anyone) asks without one complaint to your elected representatives. now, folks seem to readily stomache the idea of the government doing it too.

it used to be that liberals/progressives believed in rights to privacy. what happened?

Posted by: marydem | May 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"it used to be that liberals/progressives believed in rights to privacy. what happened?"

Liberals still dislike "Big Brother," and many liberals will oppose a national id system, but I think the card is really only an electronic upgrade of the information that the government already has on file. For that reason, the idea of the card does not bother me nearly as much as the purposeful erosion of civil liberties that took place during the Bush era (Patriot Act, Homeland Security, NSA warrantless wiretapping, etc.).

I am still undecided about whether I favor the card, because I need more information about whether an employer who wants to hire "under the table" can easily get around the requirement to use the verification. But if the biometric id's are effective and worthwhile, I can't see that they move the goal poasts at all in terms of individual freedoms -- it is just a more effective and speedy means to verify at the time of hiring that someone truly is eligible for legal employment.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 1, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

i for one will refuse any attempt to make a biometric id of myself. The government issued me a birth certificate when I was born. at 6 months I was issued my first passport (I sat on my mothers lap for the picture). when I was 8 I was issued a military dependent id. when I was 10 I received my social security number. at 16 I received my drivers license. at 18 received a military id when I joined the service. at 23 I received what I have renewed as my own passport. if the government does not know who I am now they won’t with another piece of paper. this type crap is just one more way that government wants to take over our lives and we the people must decide if this will continue or not. It is time for we the people to prepare for war against our own government if they continue to trample over our rights.

Posted by: jfassler | May 2, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse


I guess if you think you may need to go to war against the US government, logic does not enter very far into your thinking, but for a moment let's pretend that it does.

Each of the documents that you have obtained during your lifetime serves a different purpose, and each certifies a completely different thing. The birth certificate is the record of when and where you were born. The driver's license indicates that you have demonstrated the requisite knowledge and skills that entitle you to operate a motor vehicle on a public road. Your social security number assists the government in collecting taxes and paying out benefits. Your military identification was useful to military authorities in their own record keeping and identification during your service. Your passport was mainly for the benefit of other governments when you traveled outside the USA.

If you don't choose to drive, you would not be required to have a driver's license, and if you choose not to engage in international travel, you would not be required to have a passport. Unless you were drafted, having a military ID would also be the result of a specific choice that you made.

The worker identification system being contemplated here is to help all employers quickly and positively verify that they are legally entitled to employ you. It is no more an abrogation of your constitutional rights than any of the other forms of certification that you name.

If you feel otherwise, I'd be curious to know which provision of the Constitution a worker id card system violates...?

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 2, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

National ID

(1) When you are born the State you are born in has a birth certificate (and naturalized citizens have a Fed file) You are also given a Social Security Number at Birth. Your State of birth would send a statement to the Federal DataBase saying you were born there along with the SS number.

(2) Your State has a Drivers license

(3) You would be required to be photographed digitally at 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45, 55, etc by the State you live in. That photo would be sent to the Federal Data Base.

(4) When you are questioned by the law all you would need to give (you would not be required to carry an ID card) is your name, State of Birth, Year of Birth, and the last four of your SS number. This information along with the most resent photo is all there would be in this Nation ID DataBase. Only law enforcement would be allowed to access this Data Base and a record would be kept every time it is accessed.

(5) When you get a job you would authorize the employer to access this info. If you were applying for credit you would authorize the creditor to access this info. Each time it is accessed a record would be kept so you would know who is accessing your records.

This would stop identity theft and illegally using fake Ids along with illegal aliens being in this country and taking jobs.

This is so simple and easy and would end a lot of problems.

Again; the ONLY INFORMATION in this DataBase would be your name, State of Birth, Year of Birth, the last four of your SS number, and your most recent photo.

All this information is already in State and Federal records if you where born here, got a drivers license, been in the military, been convicted if a crime or dozens of other things so it is not an invasion of your privacy, would not cost a lot to implement, but would stop crime and immigration fraud.

Marlin Creasote 2007 (

Posted by: dmclegacy | May 2, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

We absolutely need a national ID card in this country. All other modern countries have a national ID card system and it's about time we got one too. Having a national ID card system (which would be combined with having a national ID number that could be used by law enforcement to verify immigration status) would do a lot to stop illegal immigration, especially if people are required to present their national ID cards upon being employed. In other countries, national ID cards are also required to access social services.

I definitely agree that a common-sense approach to immigration reform would be requiring every U.S. Citizen and legal immigrant to have a national ID card and number. In fact, we already have a national ID card system that could be easily used - U.S. citizens are now able to get passport cards. These cards have a chip inside them and clearly indicate that the bearer is a legal U.S. citizen. Legal immigrants are provided with a green card, another piece of identification that proves legal status. If we just made it a requirement for people to always carry around these pieces of identification and show them upon being employed, a lot of our problems would be solved.

Posted by: Stats | May 2, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

"If we just made it a requirement for people to always carry around these pieces of identification and show them upon being employed, a lot of our problems would be solved."

show them upon being employed - yes, maybe.

requirement for people to always carry these around - definitely not.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 2, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Stats: The United Kingdom is not a modern country? In retrospect, the last time I was there I saw all the signs of primitiveness - the country is positively crisscrossed with electric trains instead of antigravity globes, the government provides medical care with actual human doctors instead of just mailing everyone a medicomat, and their postal mail system carries physical letters instead of teleporting them using the new quantum entanglement mechanism...

The biggest problem with national identification is mission creep. The proposal's been out there for a few days and already everyone's jumping in with all this other stuff that it would supposedly help with if it were just extended a leetle tiny bit... *sigh* What ever happened to my country? Or did it never really exist?

Posted by: Deekoo | May 3, 2010 4:19 AM | Report abuse

Most Americans have been conditioned to the “routine traffic stop” and don’t see it as a significant infringement of Constitutional rights. We show ID when boarding a plane, sometimes making a credit card purchase (not often enough IMHO), entering some public buildings, buying liquor if you look under age, and for a host of other reasons. Is age profiling worse than racial, religious, national, or any other profiling? Hmmm.

However, the one place most of us don’t have to show ID is when we go to vote. In my way of thinking, the right to vote is the pinnacle of citizen rights and yet someone should have that right without showing ID and not the right to order a cocktail?

The 20 to 30 millions of uneducated illegal aliens currently residing in this country is turning the USA into the largest Socialist Nation in the world. Each head of household with less than a high school education, Legal or Illegal is an net drain of 20k per year on the backs of American tax payers.

The cost for their Medical, Schooling and Welfare makes them the most expensive manual labor in the world. Now we have both parties pandering for the Latino vote and promising Amnesty which will compound the problems allowing them to access even more social benefits!

The businesses employing the Illegal Aliens are in effect enjoying nearly slave labor while pocketing the profits and driving down our standard of living while passing on the actual cost to American tax payers of not only his employees but all of their family members residing with them.

The globalist, multiculturalism, open border advocates, liberals & businesses profiting from and exploiting Illegal Aliens argue that they, the Illegal Aliens, pay tons of taxes, sure they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books approximately 35 % using stolen Social Security numbers or other fraudulent documents pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated, low-skilled, prolific breeders and pay very low taxes connected to their working. In fact, most claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! Of course, the remaining 65% of the Illegal Aliens working off the books typically work for cash and pay nothing except real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states).

Posted by: anderson2 | May 3, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

One person made a good point that hasn't been addressed, which is that a biometric employment card will not be of any use if a person is being payed under the table.

Posted by: Alex821 | May 3, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Today, employers ask for Social Security cards before employing you and I haven't heard the ACLU and Libertarians go crazy. It's as though everyone is OK with incompetent/doesn't work/go through the motions approaches to personal identification for employment purposes, but go ballistic when something is proposed that might actually work!

Posted by: Kurfco | May 3, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Personally, our presidents focus should be on the people of THIS country. We have so many without jobs, homes, food, etc., and it’s ALL based on greed! American citizens want a better place for their children and grand-children. How does worrying about Latinos that are not here legally have anything to do with the future of Americans and there kids getting out of school and entering the work place to find jobs. ITS REALLY TIME for ALL , ALL
Americans to ask themselves Why are WE subsidizing corporations that hire these
illegals at a smaller pay scale to avoid normal costs and then ultimately see these illegal workers typically subsidize their small income thru other means like charities, food stamps, public housing free healthcare at hospitals, YES they have no MONEY how did that happen? -
the corporations taking advantage and ultimately the extra monies required to sustain these illegals come eventually back out of our own pockets. By getting rid of this cycle with the use of illegals we stop subsidizing corporations doing it and eventually more jobs will be offered at fair pay to legal workers that are waiting for this to turn around---WE need neither more illegal OR LEGAL immigrants like a Hole in the head anyway --Lets put our own people back to work FIRST- Under freedom of information act Americans should ask right now—right now what Illegal Ethnicity is gobbling up the most resources here so Americans can become informed QUICKLY what they do not want to support here any longer despite the democrats vision for the 10 – 20 million New Democrat voters Obama wants------NO THANK YOU to the Chicago patronage election recruiting system that has Gone on too long---No thanks Obama------America wants out from subsidizing these corporations with their illegal practices and Buen Venidos to our illegal visitors
“Time for a change” on illegals being here and the rest just staying there---

Posted by: Parkridge | May 5, 2010 2:37 AM | Report abuse

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