Wednesday, January 01, 2003

I am reposting an ongoing exchange, because of some server errors.

John writes:
I am amazed and disappointed at how many people think an ID requirement for aliens is useless unless citizens are required to have them too.

That is so, so unimaginative. It is a declaration of defeat, of surrender to the barbarians who are inside our gates.

If, to achieve security, U.S. citizens must be tagged and tracked like aliens, then we have lost the war and the future is grim indeed.

But, of course, that is not necessary. Contrary to Liza and Andy, it is quite possible to build an alien ID-tracking system which they will not be able to escape simply pretending to be U.S. citizens.

Every alien who enters the U.S. can be required to have a high-tech electronic smart card containing his foreign passport and U.S. visa. That card would be swiped at the border, while returning U.S. citizens simply show their U.S. passport. Aliens can't pretend to be citizens at the border because they don't have a U.S. passport.

That first unavoidable contact at the border starts the ball rolling on tracking aliens. Aliens can be required to swipe their card frequently while in the U.S., perhaps daily - every time they board a plane, rent a car, check into a hotel, etc.

Every time the card is swiped, data is stored on the card and on a central database. The types of data collected depend on the type of visa - tourist, education, work, investor, etc.

Of course I don't expect every official to "distinguish by sight who is an alien." Aliens themselves will have a powerful incentive to show ID and swipe the card, because of severe penalties - arrest, deportation and permanent exclusion.

Once we build a system to track new people coming in, and work the bugs out, then we can attack the problem of aliens who are already here. There are many things that can be done about aliens that do not require a "corresponding citizen ID." For example, there are millions of people working under a bogus Social Security number. Most are aliens. Millions of aliens are drawing welfare or other public benefits.

I agree with John here.

It is amazing how some people think that tourists, immigrants, and illegal aliens should have more rights than citizens. We citizens have no privacy. If, say, you use your credit card regularly, then you are being tracked. Why shouldn't aliens be tracked?

Liza writes:
I have no problem with tracking aliens, or requiring them to check in periodically. But I still think you are dreaming if you believe you can deter terrorist activity by requiring an alien ID to be shown in certain places, without also requiring proof of citizenship from putative citizens. All it takes is one alien attempting to pass himself off as a citizen for the one time he conducts a suicide bombing mission. He's not going to care about the penalties for failing to swipe a card!

If the purpose is to check alien ID as fans enter the ball park for a big game, then I agree that it would not be effective at stopping a suicide bomber. Hardly anything can stop a suicide bomber.

An alien ID would be useful for other situations, such as tracking student visas. Many aliens come over here on a student visa, and the feds lose track of them, and don't know if they are in school or not.

Andy replies:
Neither John nor Roger specify how they would require national ID cards for aliens for domestic jobs, travel, credit transactions, etc., without inevitably requiring ID cards for citizens also. An alien tries to get on a plane, for example, and simply says he doesn't have an alien card. Without citizen cards, there would be no way to check his claim. The system would become a laughingstock. So Liza is correct.

Am I willing to have national ID citizen cards to fight a this War on Immigration? No.

Much of the rhetoric of John and Roger reminds me of the demands for gun control after a school shooting. Of course no one defends school shootings, but we do oppose many of the proposed responses to them.

The extirpation of religion from school, driven by the school prayer decision Engel v. Vitale and evolution indoctrination, can claim another casualty: the term "reprobate". Its real definition: "morally corrupt person". It's bowdlerized definition for school: "a morally unprincipled person." Those meanings are not the same. The latter version implies that young children would qualify as reprobates.

John writes:
Didn't you read my last e-mail? It is not true that there is no way to check an alien claiming to be a citizen without forcing citizens to carry the same type of comprehensive ID cards.

Under the system I propose, aliens would not just show ID to a clerk or official - they would have to swipe a smart card. That means a record of every such transaction (time, place, and other data) would be recorded and stored, both on the card itself and on a central database.

It follows that an alien's failure to swipe the card when required would be permanently noted, just as a debtor's failure to make a required payment is noted by the creditor. Penalties for such failure would be severe enough that the vast majority would comply, making it relatively easy to identify the much smaller number of absconders.

Nor am I willing to have national ID citizen cards to fight a this War on Immigration, because it defeats the whole purpose when the same rules apply
to citizen and alien alike. What I propose is a system in which only aliens are tagged, tracked and monitored by Homeland Security, while citizens are free to travel without such oversight.

The alternative definition of reprobate is "One who is predestined to damnation. . . . Rejected by God and without hope of salvation." Who believes that Calvinist nonsense anymore? I see no place for that concept in public schools.

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