The Senate is working toward a ghastly compromise on immigration reform that includes a biometric national identification card for all Americans. The stated purpose of this national ID, which an employee must present before getting a job, is to prevent undocumented workers from being employed. Back in December I warned that a national ID is the inevitable conclusion of the anti-immigration movement. The failure of E-Verify to catch 54% of undocumented workers is only accelerating the call for a national ID.
A national ID hurts American workers while pretending to help them.
First, every worker would have to ask permission from the federal government to get a job. American workers shouldn’t have to beg or plead to anybody to get permission to work. Being employed should be a private agreement between an employer and employee. Period. The government should get out of the way.
Second, carrying around government papers with biometric identification on it conjures up images of a more technologically savvy Oceania or East Germany. No thanks.
Third, the system will exclude millions of legal workers by accident and fail to catch the majority of undocumented immigrants. For instance, if E-Verify were instituted nation-wide 3.6 million Americans would be denied employment each year and have to visit the Social Security Administration to correct their records. The employer either fires them or delays training. Will a biometric ID card make this system better? How does that help American workers?
Fourth, it will cost businesses up to $800 to buy a scanner. Or as Senator Chuck Schumer says, employers can just go down to the DMV. Senator Schumer doesn’t know squat about running a business. The last thing an employer wants to do is spend time at the DMV when he could be spending it improving his business. And all this during an economic slump!
Fifth, it would treat every American like a criminal by requiring them to enter their most intimate and personal data into a government database. One of the benefits of not having committed any crimes is that my information is not in a government record office. I’d like to keep it that way.
Has the very notion of liberty been so diluted in this great nation that no-one is willing to decry this as the naked government power grab that it is? Must every American now ask government permission to get a job? Think what you will about undocumented immigration, is ending it so important that every single American must be entered into a massive government database and given an ID they must present when applying for a job?
It most emphatically is not.
Alex Nowrasteh, is an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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Alex Nowrasteh is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.