As we reported last month, members of Congress are moving ahead with an increasingly detailed road map for a bipartisan “immigration bill” that would include mandatory universal fingerprinting and a mandatory national ID card in the guise of a “biometric Social Security card”.
The Identity Project was one of the signers of a joint public letter of opposition to the national ID card component of the proposal issued earlier this month, we were one of the signatories and we share the objections to the latest draft of the bill voiced yesterday by other civil liberties organizations. In the joint letter, we and numerous allies said that:
We write today to express our opposition to a proposal by Senators Charles Schumer (D – NY) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC) to create a biometric Social Security card – one that relies on personal characteristics like fingerprints to identify individuals….
A national ID system is not the solution. Both Republicans and Democrats have opposed a National ID system. President Reagan likened a 1981 proposal to the biblical “mark of the beast,” and President Clinton dismissed a similar plan because it smacked of Big Brother. A National ID would not only violate privacy by helping to consolidate data and facilitate tracking of individuals, it would bring government into the very center of our lives by serving as a government permission slip needed by everyone in order to work. As happened with Social Security cards decades ago, use of such ID cards would quickly spread and be used for other purposes – from travel to voting to gun ownership….
A biometric ID system would be controversial and unpopular with constituencies across the ideological spectrum. It would require the fingerprinting of every American worker – not just immigrants. It would also require the creation of a bureaucracy that combines the worst elements of the Transportation Security Administration and state Motor Vehicle Departments.
All this, should of course, go without saying. What we find most disturbing is that, even as people across the country are speaking out against the badly-drafted attempt by the state of Arizona to impose an ID requirement in the guise of “immigration enforcement”, members of Congress from both parties think they can get away with this same Trojan Horse to push through a national ID scheme at the Federal level.
Clearly what’s called for is for opponents of the new Arizona law to recognize the new Federal proposal as a larger instance of the same Big Brother mentality, and redirect some of their outrage and activism from Arizona legislators to the House and Senate. If you don’t want the whole country to go the way of Arizona on this question, let your representatives know that any national ID is unacceptable, no matter what its excuse or what it is called.