New National Identification System is Coming

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-“Maybe we should just brand all the babies.”- With this joke, Ronald Rea­gan swat­ted down a nation­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card — or an enhanced Social Secu­ri­ty card — pro­posed by his attor­ney gen­er­al in 1981. For more than three decades since, attempts to imple­ment the pro­pos­al have all met with fail­ure, but now nation­al ID is back, and it’s worse than ever.

As in 1981, immi­gra­tion restric­tions have pro­vid­ed the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. In the name of stop­ping ille­gal employ­ment, pro­pos­als float­ed by a bipar­ti­san group of sen­a­tors would cre­ate both a phys­i­cal nation­al ID — an “enhanced” Social Secu­ri­ty card — and even more men­ac­ing­ly an Inter­net-based, elec­tron­ic ID that could be accessed any­where to con­firm identity.

After the elec­tion, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D‑N.Y.), who is lead­ing the Democ­rats immi­gra­tion push, told NBC News that one of his top pri­or­i­ties was to “make sure that there is a non-forge­able doc­u­ment” for all employ­ees. After years of push­ing for one, Sen. Schumer may have bro­ken through GOP oppo­si­tion. “We’re going to have to come up with some­thing, but the prin­ci­ple we all agree on,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said this week.

Sen. John McCain (R‑Ariz.) told Politi­co that he was for “a super Social Secu­ri­ty card that would have some sort of bio­met­ric things like a fin­ger­print in it.” Sen. Lind­say Gra­ham (R‑S.C.)—also, a long­time sup­port­er of nation­al ID — agrees. “You’ll have doc­u­ments that can’t be faked,” he told CBS News after the election.

This path was the inevitable con­se­quence of America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem. First, Con­gress made it pro­hib­i­tive­ly dif­fi­cult to come. Then, unable to enforce that, they con­script­ed busi­ness­men to police their work­force for them. Now that doc­u­ment fraud has ruined this scheme, the gov­ern­ment wants even more surveillance.

But nation­al ID is more than just a card with a name and num­ber — it is a sys­tem. It must con­tain data col­lect­ed by the gov­ern­ment on every legal work­er that com­pares that name and num­ber to you. This means the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment must start col­lect­ing bio­met­ric infor­ma­tion: pic­tures, fin­ger­prints, reti­na scans, DNA, and what­ev­er else is need­ed to make the sys­tem work.

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