Friday, May 26, 2006

Reasonable ID Verification Should be the First Priority

The illegal immigration amnesty bill of 1986 failed almost solely for one reason: the near impossibility of employers to reasonably verify the authenticity of the documents presented to them by prospective employees. Phony ID was fairly easy to obtain at that time---and the situation has dramatically worsened since then. We now have computerized equipment which allows one to create fraudulent documents with incredible ease. The going rate on the street is apparently less than $200 for a phony driver’s license and social security card. How good do these items look? Even police officers and other well trained government officials can be deceived. And an employer is not able to obtain the cooperation of authorities to find out if the offered documents are legitimate. The U.S. Social Security Administration, for instance, will essentially tell them to go to hell. Moreover, if they focus only on Hispanic surnames---they will be sued in a court of law for discrimination. Employers have truly been placed in a Catch 22 situation.

Why is so much time spent on spent discussing putting up a wall between the United States and Mexico? Although I believe this to be a good idea, it is nowhere near as important as assisting employers in authenticating ID. As matter of fact, I strongly suspect that perhaps 90% of the illegal alien problem can be resolved merely by helping employers to comply with the law. Am I oversimplifying matters? What do you think?


Knucklehead said...

I don't think you are oversimplifying. If we are going to demand and/or expect employers to avoid hiring illegals we have to make it possible for them to verify identity with a reasonable amount of effort, within a reasonable amount of time, and at a reasonable cost.

What methods are available for going about this?

- we could replicate the "ligour sale" model among all employers. Demand that all employers (or the people who hire people for the employer) go through some level of "ID Documents Recognition" training and as long as they go through the motions of checking documents and the forgeries are good enough, they have no legal or financial liability if they screw up

- replicate the "credit card" model so an employer could take whatever ID card and slide it through a card reader or pick up a phone and in a few seconds or minutes get back a green, yellow, or red status

- create a reasonably secure national ID card system and if you have the card everyone else is reasonably sure you are who you say you are.

The liqour sale model would almost certainly be unworkable. For one thing all it takes to defeat it is quality fake IDs. The model works OK for liqour sales 'cause that's a pretty highly regulated and monitored industry and the "ID checker" really keys on age rather than ID.

The credit card model could probably be reasonably effective but it would almost certainly be a little bit porous. Perhaps good enough if done well.

The national ID card gets my vote but for reasons beyond my comprehension a large majority of My Fellow Americans are dead set against it.

buddy larsen said...

Make the Nat'l ID Card voluntary. You don't need one -- but allow a prospective employer--or anyone else--to discriminate on that basis. A sort of civil analog to "takin' da fifth".

Fresh Air said...

Trouble is, every time someone brings up a national I.D. card, the liberal knee jerks and the liberal mouth says, "ORWELL!"

1984 really did more damage than he can ever know.

As if our Social Security card isn't already a national identity system.

buddy larsen said...

...and, as if the IRS doesn't already have all your personal data.

Knucklehead said...


Good point about the Social Security system. It isn't actually an ID system, though. It's more like "half an ID system". It's a "personal number" system. An SSN can be used to discover that the number is a valid one and that it belongs to one "Joe Blough, born mm/dd/yy" but authentication of the claimed identification still requires some credential that says the person bearing it is, indeed, Joe Blough and, hopefully, Joe's birth date.

We are required by statute to get an SSN. We are required by modern reality to have some form of ID and often more than one form. I'm still at a loss to understand why people are so adamant that these two things not be combined.

The basic concepts (while not necessarily the implementation) of security are not difficult ones.

- access; if you do not have and cannot gain access to whatever we want secured nothing else matters

- authentication; if you have access are you who you claim to be

- authorization; if you have access and you are who you claim to be are you authorized to do whatever you are doing

- audit; are we properly managing access, authentication, and authorization

As Buddy pointed out, a national ID need not be mandatory. "This is entirely voluntary Mr. OnlyNazisHaveNationalIDs. The federal government does not require you to have one."

But when anyone goes to apply for a job, or a DL, or credit, they would quickly discover that gaining access to those things requires authenticating their identity and the only thing the access granter accepts as authentication is a national ID card.

People who have everything they need or want and never have to change anything about their lives will never need to spend the time and effort to get their national ID. The rest of us can get on with living our lives in the 21st century.

David Thomson said...

"The national ID card gets my vote but for reasons beyond my comprehension a large majority of My Fellow Americans are dead set against it."

A national ID card is not necessary. The only thing needed is the ability of the employer to easily verify already existing driver's licenses and social security cards. A police officer can normally double check the validity of a driver's license within seconds. Many states also offer non-driver’s IDs. What is the problem with allowing an employer easy access to validation services? Why would this be perceived as privacy issue? I fail to see the problem. The technology now exists. This has occurred only in the last few years. Employers everyday verify an applicant’s ID. What do you think hospitals do before hiring a prospective doctor or nurse?

What is really so startling about my proposal? I am just not getting it. A law can be passed to restrict an employer’s right to validate ID for employment reasons only. No one would be permitted to willy-nilly check on the ID of other U.S. residents. At this very moment, isn’t it lawful for a business to verify your identification before letting you pay for an item with a personal check?

buddy larsen said...

Back when your world was whatever you could cover on horseback, things were different. You would not have even considered ever having important dealings with anyone you didn't know (ie--recognize on sight).

Fresh Air said...

If we can't have a national I.D. card, then I suppose implanted chips are out of the question, eh?

David Thomson said...

“If we can't have a national I.D. card, then I suppose implanted chips are out of the question, eh?”

Once again, nothing that draconian is required. Why is it that a store owner is legally allowed to verify ID before accepting your personal check? Are employers suppose to be villains who can’t be trusted? Is the typical retailer more saintly? What am I not getting?

buddy larsen said...

FA, mind you not dissolve into another trope.

Fresh Air said...

Hey, what's wrong with chips? If they're good enough for dogs...

I'm not sure I could sit still for the procedure, but there are quite a few people whose global position would be useful information. Like this guy for example.

Knucklehead said...


What you suggest is basically what I had in mind with the "credit card" model. Anyone who is willing to accept your credit (or debit) card as a method of payment runs the number and rapidly discovers whether the card is good or not.

There are potential issues with this sort of system especially if it is based upon DLs. We all have long since forgotten that the purpose of a DL is NOT identification. The purpose of a DL is to prove one is authorized to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads.

If a job does not directly require a driver's license the employer, technically, has no right to even inquire whether or not the applicant has a DL. We conveniently neglect this because DLs have long since become the defacto method of ID in the US.

Also consider for a moment that police are "special" in that they are authorized access to check on your driving priviledges and to check into whatever Db would let them know there might be an outstanding warrant for you. I don't believe various local and state police have access to the DL DB outside their state. If you hand them a DL for another state I believe all they check for is whether or not you are wanted for something.

So not only would we need to give any old employer access to a DL DB but we'd need to form some sort of clearinghouse kind of thing that routed the request to the proper DB. Not every employer is someone we necessarily want having access to DL DBs and, potentially, driving records.

The reason I favor a national ID is that it is nothing more or less than precisely that. A nationally consistent ID card. Seperate the authentication out from the access, authorization, and audit. All the ID does is confirm that I am who I claim to be. The other issues remain specific to whatever the matter at hand is.

Small employers don't necessarily have the resources that you example of hospitals have. When a reasonably sized employer is going to hire someone they generally have access to computer systems and don't think twice about paying the $10 or whatever it costs to run the amount of checking they want done. Additionally they've generally gone through some sort of verification that they have "need to know" - they are authorized - to probe into whatever information they are interested in.

David Thomson said...

I am convinced that prosecuting employers for hiring illegals is the only real way to do something serious about border control. Building fences may even be something of a waste of time. Many illegals don’t enter the country in this manner. A large number enter via the standard border crossings. They simply lie to the border guards. How can we jail employers when they are unable to reasonably ascertain the validate the documents offered to them? This simply is not fair.

terrye said...


Yes I agree. The employers are in the position that if they refuse to hire latinos they can be accused of discrimination and if they hire the wrong ones they can be accused of the crime of hiring illegals or whatever the call it.

I think a wall can help to some degree, but as long as how economy needs workers and the Mexicans need work the pressure will be there. So maybe all we can do is devise ways to stem the tide and make things a little more rational.

buddy larsen said...

I've read that approximately half of all illegals are in-country on expired legal visas. Wall won't stop that, and Wall won't stop an AQ or Hezzbollah plot. It will tighten the symbolism and definitions some, tho. For better and for worse, depending on who you are, where you are, and what you want.

Anonymous said...

A wall would certainly help stem the tide. It would also be a humanitarian project to discourage treks across the desert. The other part is some sort of non-counterfeitable ID system, be it a national ID card or other document or combination of documents and a decent enforcement mechanism.

Of course, if you couldn't forge the documents, and if you demanded that employers show proof of having checked for documents, those employers might raise such a stink as to make the government drop the project. He added cynically.

Both of the above are needed. But the real solution lies in the transformation of the Mexican political culture and economy.

buddy larsen said...

PEMEX the nat'l oil company, provides 38% of nat'l revenue, and is the highest-cost producer in the world--in areas that should be among the lowest. The irrational factor is the graft at every level. A version of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act would unlock the economy--for starters. One guy--Carlos Slim--owns the phone company of Mexico.

buddy larsen said...

Skook, you have decency writ all over you, but you should reconsider the humanitarian aspect of the argument. It's like refusing food to a hungry person on cholesteral grounds. The pro-Wall case has merits--but the humanitarian--at this point in time--runs in the other direction.

David Thomson said...

“But the real solution lies in the transformation of the Mexican political culture and economy.”

The odds of my humiliating Shaq O’Neal on a basketball court might be higher in the foreseeable future. We simply cannot wait until Mexico gets its act together. No, we are compelled to effectively stop illegal immigration in the here and now. Mexico’s economy is so pathetic that its poor citizens, for likely the next ten years, are better off emigrating to the United States---even if that country’s economy grows at an astronomical 5-6% per year.

buddy larsen said...

What's really sad is how badly Fox-the-Reformer has failed, in liberalizing the economy. And if AMLO-the-Red wins the coming election, nothing will change except the design of the cover, vis the trusts, combines, and oligarchies. What will hurt most, economically, under AMLO is that the one quick curative--transparancy and the flood of foreign investment it would bring--will recede ever further into the distance.

Anonymous said...


Yes. Modern firms as fiefs, with control by a small nobility at the top. A model found throughout Latin America, in which the average Joe at the bottom has no investment in any of it - no stocks, no 401K, nada. And no interest in getting any because the fabric of trust that maked such investment possible simply doesn't exist. The great exception is Chile, and it is still an open question as to how long that alternate model will last. Though at the moment things look OK.

There is also a very deep-seated antagonism toward capitalist enterprise since colonial times, unlike in the Protestant North (paging Dr. Weber). The absolutist state is our savior, except that they're evil because they're absolutist, so we have to get rid of them and install the new absolutists who will solve the problem, et cetera ad nauseum now going on for half a millenium.

And often, as Dr De Soto tirelessly points out, no clear title to land. Ergo, no home equity loan when you want to start your own taco stand.

As to the humanitarian argument, I do see your point Buddy. They are after all escaping a failed society and if I were in their shoes I would attempt to do exactly the same, rattlesnakes and drug-runners with machine guns notwithstanding.

But running this gauntlet - which begins not at our border but deep in Latin America - is something we should discourage instead of encourage. And a wall would discourage it. And I am enough of an American nationalist to realize the consequences of completely unregulated immigration, especially of poorly educated and unskilled immigrants into a culture that at the moment lacks the self-confidence to promote their assimilation.

What I am most afraid of - as a bilingual zebra-striped 50% Hispanic and Gringo - is future ethnic conflict. It is too early to say how this wil play out, but the last thing I want is Macedonia in my own backyard.

buddy larsen said...

Right on. And look out kid, they keep it all hid (35th of world's worst 50).

buddy larsen said...

IOW, of 140 or so world nations, only a dozen or so are worse, in terms of a consensual socio/politico/economic environment, than the one with which we share a 2,000 mile border. Great.

Anonymous said...


And the wall is also an insurance policy in case that future reformation proves impossible. Wait till some Lopez Obrador type makes it rough on international investment and the factory building stops. We ain't seen nothin' yet.

Anonymous said...

And it's already Macedonia in my own backyard with the birds and the friggin' cat (TM).

Reliapundit said...

this could be THE issue to sve the GOP this fall.

the feds don thavre to issue ANYTHING, just demand that the states check a govt issued photo id beofe allowing that person to vote.

the dmv's in each state can ussue NONDRIVER ID's.

then, the feds just have to issue HIGH standards for driver's licenses.

Unknown said...

Should these alien residents acquire a criminal record as a result of their illegal stay in the US they will never be eligible for legal citizenship or entry to the country.

That, it would seem to me, is a good enough incentive to play by the rules.

My suggestion, is to set up an incentive scheme for bounty hunters to go after alien residents, and once in custody to fast track those cases through the legal system. Once criminalized, any future prospect of permanently staying in the US is forever forfeit.

On a second tract, announce a program to be activated at some future date, which will offer work permits for people that have a clean record.

On a third tract, be prepared for an immediate drop in the labour market of, oh let's say, about 10-15 million persons.

terrye said...


Depending on how they deal with it this issue will either kill or save the Republicans.

A lot of Americans are going to Mexico to retire I hear. It would seem to me that would require certain standards of living be available.

Anonymous said...


It would seem to me that would require certain standards of living be available.

Oh, sure - for the tourists and the middle class, such as it is. Mexico City for example is big enough and complex enough that you can do most anything - eat food from anywhere, go to the symphony, catch some jazz, go to a synagogue on Saturday and Mass on Sunday, all that stuff. It is just that this isn't what 99% of the population will ever experience.

Well, the Mariners are playing and Mrs. Skookumchuk is ringing the dinner bell. :-)

Luther said...

I don't know Buddy, we're up to 77 deaths in the Tucson sector since Oct01. I think any obstacle that can be placed in the path of folks coming across the desert would be provident.

Yes, reform in Mexico is the only real hope. But that will only ever happen if there is pressure for change, and y'all have amply covered a number of reasons why that change is not likely to occur.
Not in my lifetime anyway.

Terrye, there are a half million or more retired American's in Mexico. Though for the most part they live in gated and sheltered communitunties where the standard of living is quite nice.

Three tries on those silly letters this time. Where are those glasses?

buddy larsen said...

Yep, some incentive to turn in hiders in the cash-only economy would have an effect. Probably not wanna call 'em "bounty-hunters" tho--

Luther--I'm not so much anti-fence as I am worried about that upcoming election in Mexico. The kettle's a-boil, and I wouldn't mind seeing a few more years of Hugo-less Mexico, while we (hopefully) marshall ourselves a bit better (solve the BDS split & a few other ongoing problems). Kicking the can once more is preferable to tripping over it, perhaps. But I know enough to know how little I know. I just smell things, about like a dog or a friggin cat (tm).

Luther said...

Whoa Buddy, my "friggin cat" saved me from a potential "diamondback" bite last weekend. She's for sure family now. :-)

But yeah, its good to have a highly developed 'smell' sense.
And you are right to be cautions re the trouble a'stirrin south of our border. To be honest I hate the fact that we need to build a fence. OTOH there aren't many backyard's without them.

buddy larsen said...

Good point. Glad that Diamondback didn't get ya. Those things used to be hell around the drilling rigs over in Zapata County where the desert gets so cold at night even in the Spring & Fall. Pick up a joint of pipe and the damn things'd slide out 6 or 8 feet long--and mad.

Luther said...

Yep, life in the desert! Keeps you alert and focused!

Stupid question, why don't thread's last very long round these parts?

O'l marky whathisname at least kept things stirred up.

buddy larsen said... golf lightning storms, dooya? ...if he comes back--he's all urine...i mean your'n.

buddy larsen said...

I smiled when i said that.. :-)

Luther said...

Yeh and I smiled when I read it! Golf's good unless it strikes closer than three holes away, then I'm off. Did we work ourselves around to "thor" again?

buddy larsen said...

Ha--tho it theemth--

Serious note, here's a very fine piece, to consider on the Memorial Day weekend: