1. Will ID cards for foreign workers encourage profiling?
Aren't alll foreigners supposed to have their passports
with them anyway
After all, it's the type of visa stamped on this that determines whether a foreigner is allowed to work while staying in the USA. If someone hasn't got a passport, or has one with the wrong type of visa, or no visa, then they aren't legally allowed to work in the US.
And if someone of foreign birth is a citizen, they should be able to produce some other kind of ID, shouldn't they?
Biometrics is a red herring on this, because the USA is already
asking foreign nations to start adding biometric data to all passports used to visit the USA.
been postponed a few times because of the scale of the project, but if this proposal is made out of frustration at whiney Euro back-sliding, what makes President Bush think that a much larger scheme, paid for by the USA and not foreign governments, will happen any sooner? And if it's supposed to be as well as
biometric passports, why is it happening at all?
Why introduce another type of ID and another layer of bureaucracy, both of which might seem
to be an answer in the headlines but turn out to have downsides?
For instance, biometric passports are not
automatically "tamper proof". It might make them harder to forge, but there is no way to make them impossible
to forge. If there is no central database, all biometric ID has to do is match the real biometrics of the person carrying the card.
In effect, it's a complex and expensive way of matching handwriting - all it's doing is assuming that nobody in the criminal underworld has a pen. With enough computing power and the right printing & scanning technology, I can scan my own eyes, put that information on a card, and say I'm Frederick Flintstone, and if all anyone ever does is scan my iris or fingerprint and check it against the one on my card, they will ALWAYS match, so you can just call me Fred. That's fine with me, & it may be fine with you, but when I use my newly-legitimate identity to open credit card accounts and clean them out, I daresay Fred himself won't be too pleased when his bank forecloses on him.
Now biometric ID might
deter a few "wetbacks" (a hateful term) from walking across the border, but all it will do with the organised gangs that ship Asian, African or East European people over in steel containers labelled "margerine" is make them charge even higher prices to smuggle these poor people in on the promise they will be movie stars or models, doctors or lawyers, when in fact they'll end up working in brothels or sewers.
expects the various gangs and mafias that largely run illegal immigration to quietly accept a government-imposed cut in their profits, do they? They'll shell out the cash for the state of the art technology that lets them make their own cards, or just bribe a few officials so they can use the legal systems on the sly. Just like they do now. Big win, George. Well done.
So, for biometric ID to be more useful than a wooden sign saying "I am <<Insert Your Name Here>>", you need a huge
, always-on, secure database that is easily accessible by every possible person who legitimately wants to access it.
Not just at IBM HQ, but from every mom & pop's corner store that needs a new grocery clerk, from every farm that needs their melons picked, and from evey fast food joint that needs their fries fried and their burgers flipped.
see this happening?
Who pays for it all? The employers aren't going to - they already cut costs by hiring illegals in the first place. And if the illegals wanted to be all on the books and above board, they would have applied for a work visa through the US Embassy of their home country. The American taxpayer, on the other hand...
But even if you can
institute the largest wide scale IT implementation yet devised AND make it secure from hackers and the organised criminals who smuggle in many if not most illegals, AND make it robust enough to be available across all time zones, AND make it quick to issue the ID cards at the point of entry*, AND instantaneously update the central database, AND do it on the kind of timescale that might see a system go-live nationwide sometime before Armageddon/the next Ice Age/Martians invade/Hell freezes over...
...if you CAN do all that, AND it works, the easiest thing in the world is to expand the database to include everyone
, not just illegals.
As anyone with a passing knowledge of modern IT will tell you, data storage is cheap and easy.
So, suddenly, a system that was supposed to keep an eye on the immigrants and foreigners and other non-citizens in the USA, and their movements within it, does all that for everyone
, before you can say "give me liberty or give me death".
*Ellis island worked fine, but if John and Joanne Bull fly to NYC on a Friday for a quick weekend of shopping and a show, YOU try to explain they have to wait in a secure holding area for six weeks while they are processed; and any system will HAVE to be this wide in scope or else ANYONE can just say "oh I'm only here for the weekend"3. Could this lead to ID cards for everyone?
I think it would have to, because without a database there is no earthly point in having them, and there is no earthly point in having a national database covering the entire USA to look after a couple of million foriegners; it would simply not be cost effective unless everyone
was going to be on it.2. Will the ACLU fight this idea?
If they have an ounce of sense, yes. But not because it's an explicit civil rights issue - see below.4. Do you think this is a good idea?
As I say, I don't think this is a civil rights issue on the surface - it's a huge white-elephant exercise in misdirection. The problem of immmigration is not caused by a lack of government information, it's caused by greed - the greed of emploers who want to be able to hire people for less than they legally ought to do and the greed of the gang bosses (in both sense of "gang") who ship, fly or drive them in.
How many illegal workers pay taxes? How many employers pay them above minimum wage? How many people hiring illegal workers ever bother to look for ID in the first place?
The black economy most illegals work within only functions because everyone
colludes in it - and attempts to curb immigration, legal or otherwise, only address the supply side.
If minimum wage laws were properly enforced, and employers - be they agricultural gang-masters, docks managment, fast food franchisees or suburban middle classes looking for domestic servants on the cheap - were properly punished for breaking them (i.e. imprisoned), then demand would drop and most of the problem would go away without
conjuring new layers of government from thin air (or your taxes) or putting in place the necessary infrastructure for 1984
to stop being a work of fiction.
If I seem passionate and derisive about the whole biometric ID idea, it's because my own far-sighted and noble bunch of idiots in government (on this issue, among others) are proposing that ALL us Brits get biometric ID. Over here the excuse is terrorism, not illegal immigration, but it's equally dunder-headed.