I Always Feel Like Somebody’s IDing Me

Alexander Bolton at The Hill:

A plan by Senate Democratic leaders to reform the nation’s immigration laws ran into strong opposition from civil liberties defenders before lawmakers even unveiled it Thursday.

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.

Ezra Klein:

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.”

Jesse Walker at Reason:

Without defending Arizona’s latest lousy law in the immigration arena, I’ll give the place this much credit: At least the state fended off REAL ID.

Digby:

That ought to be good for six months worth of Beckian paranoia.

Is it possible that they thought it was smart to throw that in as a bargaining chip? If so it shows once again that Democrats should never, ever play poker.

Tom Maguire:

We need national ID cards or the terrorist win?  I deplore this fear-mongering, just as I know earnest libs deplored the fear-mongering of the Bush era.

But reflect with me – forcing passengers to remove their shoes prior to boarding a flight may deter some aspiring shoe bomber, and I think there is a strong societal consensus that having airplanes fall out of the sky unexpectedly is a bad thing.

But requiring a person to show an ID card before serving coffee at a local deli prevents what – bad coffee?  Forcing a lawn care service to ID their workers prevents what – crabgrass?  I’ll take my chances (“Danger” is my middle name…).

Somewhat more seriously (I am making an effort here), the complaint in Arizona that sparked their controversial new law is that they are being overrun with illegal drug smugglers, illegal human smugglers, and illegal workers.  If, I say IF Durbin’s new ID card was effective and IF small, off-the-book employers that are currently ignoring Social Security requirements and other work-related rules actually played along, we would still have done nothing to deter illegal drug smugglers.  Or does Durbin think the drug cartels will be applying for ID cards for their workers and enrolling them in the new health exchanges?

Terrorists are physically dangerous.  Drug smugglers are physically dangerous.  Most illegal workers are only dangerous to the wages of the Americans they might be displacing.  Let’s not muddle the dangers here.

John Cole:

Apparently they think the outcry over the Arizona “SHOW YOUR PAPERS” bill is that it will only be applied to Hispanics. Polls pretty clearly demonstrate that half the country has no problem with the Arizona bill because it will not affect them- it only is an inconvenience for “others” (meaning brown people). But start talking about a national id with biometric data that everyone has to be issued, and you will think the death panels and health care reform debate were a walk in the park.

And I’m not even talking about the actual merits and downsides to the id card. I’m talking about the freak-out that will be inevitable, some of which I will probably even agree with. This is just stunningly tone deaf.

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Filed under Immigration, Legislation Pending

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