Oppose National ID Card As Part Of Immigration Reform! (Draft)
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Re: Immigration Reform that Does Not Deform Citizenship and Basic Rights
The U.S. needs workable and suitable immigration policies that address
both authorized and unauthorized immigration in sensible ways. A reliable
immigration program will strengthen American society and the American economy,
but will also respect the rights of American citizens and those aspiring to
become citizens. Any immigration “reform” plan that infringes on the
civil rights and civil liberties of U.S. citizens and non-citizens, especially
one that implements a biometric national identification card and universal
electronic verification system, is not reform and violates the fundamental
rights of a free society.
A. The Damage of the overly “Comprehensive” Scheme
We support immigration reform, but oppose certain “comprehensive” parts
because they degrade the rights of American citizenship by creating an
intrusive national ID and work permission system. Worker IDs and electronic
verification depend on the government’s ability to remove a citizens’ right to
seek and take employment and then ”give it back” as a privilege. That
privilege is then only granted by the government when the citizen provides
proper “proof.” Under schemes like federal biometric worker IDs and
universal electronic “verification,” before a U.S. citizen or a legal
immigrant could seek or take employment, he would be required to obtain a high-tech
Worker/Social Security card embedded with biometric identifiers (like
fingerprints). The card would then be checked against a national databank for
“eligibility” to work. Under such schemes the long standing fundamental
right to take employment becomes government-granted privilege alterable by
government fiat at any time. Even worse, the mechanisms for both the
issuance and verification of cards will be controlled by the government. If a
citizen does not have this single official card, even if she had a passport,
she cannot work.
B. Citizens’ Right to Employment
The right to employment has long been a fundamental feature of American
citizenship. Since Butcher Union Co. v. Crescent City Co. in 1884, the U.S.
Supreme Court has held that
The right to follow any of the common occupations of life is an
inalienable right; it was formulated as such under the phrase ‘pursuit of happiness'
in the declaration of independence… This right is a large ingredient in the
civil liberty of the citizen.”
A government requirement that a citizen must provide proof of
citizenship to work not only undermines one’s fundamental right to employment, but it
also violates the principle that government is required to facilitate
basic freedoms. In other words, the burden is on the government to prove that
the individual cannot work here. Otherwise, citizenship in a democracy is
upended from its proper relationship of consent from the citizen to the
state to one in which the state gives or withholds permission on its terms and
makes the right to seek and take employment into a conditional
privilege. The situation becomes worse when the only allowed forms of proof are
government-issued or government-controlled. Both the “privilege” to work
and the mechanism for enjoying the privilege lies within the government’s
Worker ID and universal e-verification systems presume no one is a
citizen. They assume no one (a citizen or otherwise) can work in the U.S. until
she proves she has the privilege. Any American who does not have or provide “
proper “government-issued documentation become “an illegal” and will not
be allowed to take a job.
C. CIR and Biometric Citizen Green Cards
A biometric ID card also violates privacy because the government “captures”
private pieces of persons for official purposes. As John Locke said in
Two Treatises of Government, “every man has a Property in his own Person."
The Thirteenth Amendment recognizes everyone’s rights over her own body and
freedom. A biometric ID tied to a government-owned database extracts, marks,
and takes “ownership” over individuals’ fingerprints or digital images.
Such a card will likely say “property of the U.S. government,” even though
citizens, persons, rights and information cannot “belong” to a democratic
The worker ID and electronic employment verification system (E-Verify)
equate citizens with illegal immigrants and require citizens to be
fingerprinted like criminals and to carry the equivalent of “green cards.” Instead of
legal immigrants being freed from mandatory green cards once they become
citizens, under “Comprehensive” Immigration Reform, citizens will have to
carry worker cards that contain information about their bodies. If a citizen’
s ID cannot be verified because the card itself has stopped working or
because a government databank is faulty, he cannot work. Quite simply, Worker
ID-with-E-Verify will be a National ID System—not just paper forms kept
locally, but an integrated, constant, comprehensive tracking and privileging
system of all employees and their work.
Uses of the Worker ID will proliferate. Like the Social Security card
that once said “not for identification purposes,” a biometric worker card
will become required everywhere for identification. Unlike the driver’s license
that once proved people knew how to drive, Worker IDs will become “travel
licenses” required for “federal purposes” like entering government
buildings or flying on airplanes (which are now possible without ID.) Also, worker
IDs connected to E-Verify will leave a “digital trail” for tracking
everybody’s whereabouts 24/7. By tracking where everyone is officials can tell
them where they can and cannot work or go.
D. The Costs of a Worker ID
While lost employment rights and privacy invasions are worker
ID system’s greatest costs, such programs will also burden citizens with
significant cash expenses. Like the costs of “free” voter IDs, many
citizens will lose work time and income to get certified birth certificates and
travel to government offices rather than earning money. A “comprehensive”
worker ID system will cost taxpayers and businesses billions of dollars.
Small to large companies fighting the recession will face machine and time
expenses for e-verifying all workers and IDs. CIR will further draft business
owners as unpaid federal immigration agents. It could require families to
buy equipment to E-Verify babysitters and elder caregivers.
Tied to a Worker ID, an expensive E-Verify program could push some
employers and workers toward the black market and avoiding taxes, losing $17
billion in government revenues a decade. Fully implementing E-Verify will cost
employers, employees and households over $6 billion. E-Verify will be
infamous for database mistakes that keep citizens out of work and in limbo
(1% errors make 2 million unemployed), and worthless when employers don’t
check it. It will also be valuable to hackers accessing the databases for
E. Concluding against Worker ID and E-verification in CIR
In short, these “comprehensive” parts of immigration reform undermine
citizens’ rights to employment and privacy at high costs. “Capturing” and
storing fingerprint and facial images in a national database for universal
e-verification eviscerate citizenship, invade privacy and invite identity
theft. A biometric worker ID-With-E-Verify becomes a national ID and tracking
scheme. It imposes burdens on rights and revenues. CIR’s collateral damage
injures citizens and citizenship. Worker ID/E-Verify won’t work and are
misleading diversions from valid immigration proposals. Immigration officials
must not have power over citizens.
Because citizen freedoms are foundations for upholding rights for all
persons, in “constitutional citizenship theory itself, citizenship is not just
for citizens.” Protecting the citizen right to employment helps everyone
who wants to contribute to prosperity and become citizens here by
maintaining citizenship as bedrock of freedoms. It keeps American citizenship as
the gold standard, rather than a tarnished dream, for Americans and those
seeking to enter America’s Golden Door.
Plans for E-verify and Worker IDs as All-American “green cards”
in a National ID system need to be dropped. Real reforms, like expanding
legal immigration, fair legalization, dream acts, and viable guest worker
options, do not deform citizenship and basic rights. The U.S. deserves
Constitutional Immigration Reform that fosters productive immigration and
economic development. We do not need worker IDs or E-Verify schemes that
destroy the rights of American citizens and those aspiring to join them.
 Truax v. Raich (1915) and Board of Regents v. Roth (1972) hold “The
right to work for a living in the common occupations of the community is of
the very essence of the personal freedom and opportunity that it was the
purpose of the [Fourteenth] Amendment to secure.”
 Richard Sobel, “Citizenship as Foundation,” TriQuarterly, 2008.
(http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=38990) . CBO letter,
_www.cbo.gov/ftpdoc/91xx/doc9100/hr4088ltr.pdf_ (http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdoc/91xx/doc9100/hr4088ltr.pdf) .
 Westat, “Findings of the E-Verify Program Evaluation,” December 2009.
 Linda Bosniak, The Citizen and the Alien, 2006, 79.
 Douglas Massey and Karen Pren, “Unintended Consequences of US
Immigration Policy,” Population & Development Review, March 2012.
Cyber Privacy Project
Defending Dissent Foundation
Stop Real ID Coalition
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
It's also circulating to other contacts.
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