Tags: Donald Trump | Homeland Security | Immigration | blue book | carte vitale | dreamers

ID Card Cheaper Than a Wall

ID Card Cheaper Than a Wall

A version of social security card in china used. Employed is a Chip-based bank card. Seen is the China UnionPay logo. The front and the back of the card are seen. (Cl2004lhy/Dreamstime)   

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 11:14 AM Current | Bio | Archive

President Trump proposes moving 1.8 million Dreamers and other undocumented people toward citizenship, but only if $25 billion is appropriated for a wall and other border protection. The mention of citizenship is encouraging, but there are problems with conditioning it on building a wall.

Proposed actions can be analyzed using the expression: A ——> X + Y: Action A taken in pursuit of Goal X also, unfortunately, causes Side Effects Y. If a proposed action A would not achieve its goal X, we should seek a different action. If it would work, we should ask whether its side effects Y are an acceptable price for getting the goal, and whether a different action might achieve that goal at a lower price.

Trump's proposed action is to build a wall. But about half of undocumented people enter the country legally but overstay their visa. Even a 100 percent effective wall would only solve half the problem. And walls aren't completely effective, thanks to tunnels, end runs in the ocean, and airplanes.

Instead of a physical barrier, we should consider creating a virtual wall: a national identification card carried by everyone, including visitors, with all legally required to show it upon request by a police officer or other government official. This could solve the entire problem while costing less.

The card would facilitate detection and expulsion of all individuals entering and remaining without authorization. But this virtual wall should apply only to individuals entering the U.S. after it is "built." The legislation should provide amnesty and a path to citizenship for everyone already here, not just Dreamers.

Deporting 12 million people would be inhumane, shatter families, and disrupt our economy. It would also be un-American to maintain a two-class society, with an underclass permanently ineligible for citizenship.

Ultimately, the ID card might eliminate our need to carry several identification cards. It could work like the French carte vitale, if national medical insurance is enacted. It could serve as a passport, social security card, and driver's license. It could indicate voter registration, solving the voter ID problem.

The main opposition to an ID card might come from privacy enthusiasts, both left and right. To some extent, their concerns might be justified. But government already makes us carry documentation to drive, travel abroad, borrow from public libraries, and fly on commercial airliners. Putting this information plus citizenship status into a single data base linked to an ID card would not threaten our freedom.

Other objections might come from those fearing police profiling and harassment. This danger is real, but could be minimized by requiring officials who examine someone's ID card also to place their own card in the device that accesses the central data base. Encounters would be noted in the data base, patterns monitored, and abuse of discretion detected and punished.

Under no circumstances should an individual's race, ethnicity or religion — which cannot be legally relevant in a country respecting the rule of law — be identified on cards or the data base. A recent newspaper article in The New York Times described how China's government uses ID cards to track and harass the Uighur minority.

One can imagine how Nazis might have used such cards in persecuting Jews.

Protecting information from hackers and preventing people from impersonating others could be easier with a single data base, protected by extreme security, than with our current multiple databases for different federal and state purposes. Biometric information could be included in each card. Accessing data without authorization and counterfeiting cards would be serious crimes.

Many countries, including democracies, have various types of identification cards, and it will be desirable to draw on their experience in drafting American ID legislation.

In an ideal world people would move freely from country to country like Americans move from state to state. Such a world could appeal to conservatives as well as liberals. As arch-conservative Robert Welch said in "The Blue Book" of the John Birch Society two generations ago: "An honestly intended federalism of nations, in some later years or decades, for the legitimate purpose of increasing the freedom of individuals, goods, and cultures to cross national boundaries, and hence for the very purpose of decreasing governmental restrictions on individuals, is something we would support with all our hearts."

Someday, it may be possible to move towards such a world of freedom. But as long as barriers to travel remain, we need ways to enforce them. A national ID card could provide an efficient system, eliminating any argument for an expensive but ineffective physical wall. Without further study, Congress should not appropriate a dime for building a wall.

Paul F. deLespinasse is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Computer Science at Adrian College. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1966, and has been a National Merit Scholar, an NDEA Fellow, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a Fellow in Law and Political Science at the Harvard Law School. His college textbook, "Thinking About Politics: American Government in Associational Perspective," was published 1981 and his most recent book is "The Case of the Racist Choir Conductor: Struggling With America's Original Sin." His columns have appeared in newspapers in Michigan, Oregon, and a number of other states. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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A national identification card could provide an efficient system, eliminating any argument for an expensive but ineffective physical wall. Without further study, Congress should not appropriate a dime for building a wall.
blue book, carte vitale, dreamers
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 11:14 AM
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