Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DMV HELL....Endemic corruption? Spying on American citizens? An endless war in Iraq? Official policy that OKs the torture and abuse of prisoners?

Maybe Republicans can get away with all that. But if they start screwing up our ability to get a drivers license, they're in trouble. Greg Anrig reports.

Kevin Drum 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

Even Wisconsin, home of "Big, Dumb Jim" Sensenbrenner is considering a no vote on REAL ID. I hope every state in the Union opts out. Sensenbrenner is an arrogant fool. If this is what trips him up, so be it.

Posted by: freelunch on June 19, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I thought you were describing a visit to the DMV.

Posted by: DrBB on June 19, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

The fact is though, without some kind of national ID, there is really no way to enforce any immigration legislation. You simply have to have some way to tell if you are a honest to goodness citizen or not. The problem is that folks who are dead set against immigration reform are also to be the ones most likely to to be against national ID.

Looks like a passport is about to become the de facto national ID.

Posted by: Rick DeMent on June 19, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

The geneology community probably has the most complete set of data on who people are & where they came from so why not build an ID system around that ?

Yea, I know, nothing in it for favored contractors and political contributors; not enough room for graft

Someday "We the people..." are going to step up and take over

Someday

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

"The geneology community probably has the most complete set of data on who people are & where they came from so why not build an ID system around that ?"

But aren't they the LDS folks, too?

Posted by: slanted tom on June 19, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Rick DeMent beat me to it. If you are going to enforce employment laws with regards to immigration status, employers have to have some form of government ID that validates that one is legally entitled to work. What is even more ironic is that such ID could also be used to ascertain whether or not one is entitled to vote. It is very odd how the politics changes around an issue (in this case, photo ID) depending on what perspective from which one is viewing it.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 19, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

You mean like employers formally checking up on any social security card to make sure it's not fraudulent? Maybe match the ID that was used to get the social security card to the number again? Does this require some new big-brotheresque national ID card? Surely, if someone can provide a fake SS/ID, they can provide a fake REAL-ID?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on June 19, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

royalblue_tom,

Social Security numbers are a dime a dozen. Literally millions of them are available and seemingly legitimate. Birth certificates are already easy to fake. Yes, you will need an ID that is very, very difficult to fake, and it will have to be tied into a government database that can verify that it is not being used twice or more. It is the federal government's responsibility to certify that someone is legally entitled to work. If you want to toss employers into prison for employing illegals (a common desire from many of the commenters on this site), then you have to have a national ID system that employers can access in order to make their employment decisions.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 19, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Surely then Yancey, you need a federal birth/SS registry then - don't most people get their SS at birth? So, an illegal would have to hack the SS computers, or falsely register 18+ years previously?

This would be a better option than having a "incredibly difficult to fake" ID - which is super expensive, and would probably be faked within minutes of one being issued?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on June 19, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I tried to read the link, but the flashing neon sign saying "MOTORVOTER MAKES VOTING FOR DEMOCRATS SO, SO, VERY EASY" was a bit distracting.

Why is there almost a 1-1 correspondence between those who support IllegalImmigration and those who oppose things like REALID?

If the Dems want to be serious about this issue, here's what they can do: put their desire to oppose a NationalID well ahead of their desire to support IllegalImmigration. If the Dems can do that, people might take their complaints about REALID seriously instead of automatically knowing why they oppose it.

BTW, I've got a whole category just about IllegalImmigration and DriversLicenses; it might be of use to those who want to speak knowledgably and honestly about this issue.

Posted by: TLB on June 19, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

tom,

Do you really think it is hard to come by social security numbers? You likely give yours out more than a few times a year, as do I. My state doesn't include it on driver's licenses any longer, but it has been on some of the licenses I have held in the past. In other words, not being born here without a SS number is no real barrier to employment.

I am just pointing out that the burden of determining legality to work belongs to the government, not employers. The only requirement the employer should have is to request and examine whatever documents the government requires for employment. Beyond that, it is the government's responsibility to determine whether these documents are valid or not. A national ID that is harder to fake than SS numbers or birth certificates seems like the best way to do this if one is really interested in ensuring that only the legal residents work in this country. If you don't care, then it is not an issue.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 19, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

If we could get the knuckle-draggers on the right side of the aisle over their idiotic "Mark of the Beast" fears from the Book of Revelations, there are quick and tamper-proof ID techonolgies available, like retinal scanning and DNA mouth swabs. Some countries, like Estonia, have "smart cards" with embedded RFID chips that contain all of your personal data that instantly be read by a scanning device.

Of course, since the United States is probably the most superstitious and backward country in the world, particularly the Deep South, we can expect this to be in place around the year 3007.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 19, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I remember once having to schedule some important business on a rare day off. I could either get two root canals (needed but not urgent) or go to the DMV to get plates for a couple vehicles. I gladly chose the root canals, leaving the car stuff for girlfriend (yes, she's still with me).

Posted by: steve duncan on June 19, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tiger Woods y'all, Tiger Woods y'all. It's all good y'all, s'all good y'all.

Posted by: CraigM on June 19, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator,
Are you okay with the government having access to that kind of DB? I'm not. Retinal scanning? DNA swabs? Why does the government need that?

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on June 19, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey, It cannot be good enough for employers to just examine the ID - a better approach would be to allow employers to request validation through the federal SS system - naturally, given date of birth, name, and SS#, this would shake out a fair proportion, and provide a central system, using data already held in existing systems. You would need the ability to check typos/operator error, but this would be a much cheaper option than a national ID scheme.

And since your employer and the SS are two of the parties that actually need your SS, there really isn't any need to worry about giving your SS number, since your original question was about employment law enforcement against illegal immigration.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on June 19, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Creation of a national RealID will require large and widespread government spending at both the State and Federal levels, as well as necessitating tens of thousands of additional gov't jobs at the DMV, 90% of which will be given to persons who speak english as a second language.

I would think the average liberal would love it.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 19, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

jk's conscience:

No, I'm not. I'm just saying - it's available. I would be O.K. with a "smart card" for a national health insurance program. Estonia uses it and it works great. I was over there and saw it in action and their use of technology makes us look like retards.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 19, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

And you would think that the average libertarian would hate it ...

Posted by: royalblue_tom on June 19, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

The conservative deflator wrote:

Of course, since the United States is probably the most superstitious and backward country in the world, particularly the Deep South, we can expect this to be in place around the year 3007.

It's funny that from that sentence alone, I know what your politics are.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 19, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

tom,

The evidence is already there that it doesn't shake out a lot of illegals. A fair number are employed and pay social security taxes and other taxes just like I do. I realize that a lot of illegals work off the books completely, and those employers are clearly negligent in more ways than just employing illegals, such as tax evasion. However, such employers are very unlikely to be large corporations, and are more likely to be proprietorships or small contract firms. I have no problem with the government tightening up the Social Security number system so that it can't be abused, and I have no problem with raids on companies suspected of knowingly employing illegal residents, but those who take a SS number and birth certificate, and the government does not question it, then they should be absolved of all further responsibility in this area.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 19, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just make all DMV's like Colorado and it will bring shivers of joy to the cold, dark hearts of RepubliConTarians. Besides, with a national ID, it will be easier to identify enemies of the state and send them to re-educations camps.

Posted by: Mike on June 19, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yancy,

I don't think anyone thinks that employers who have been hoodwinked with fake social security cards, or any other false ID, should be prosecuted for employing illegals.

However I think that there are a lot more employers who are willing to look the other way when an employee doesn't have adequate ID, if they are willing to work on the cheap.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on June 19, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Actually verifying the SS to just a name - not a date or anything else - would shake out 99% of the fake workers.

But the problem with REAL ID is that a Passport - or other Federal document - isn't being given the same stringent requirements.

If you want real enforcement, we can do it now. Most states have a method to see if more than one someone is using a SS, same with the feds. They know who the SS belongs to and who's using it. That's not the problem - when you work, you're generally sticking around to get paid.

When California decided to verify everyone's birth certificate - and not accept out of state documents - they had millions of people like me stuck because we'd had a legal name change, gender change, driver's license, marriage, or birth out of state. I ended up having to get a new copy of my birth certificate and a doctor's note that I was who I said I was. They refused to accept that my name had changed in the twenty-five years I'd spent out of state.

And the REAL ID does nothing for immigrants at all: Their identification is just as lousy as ever, because states can't get the information from the backlogged Feds. The Feds who haven't made the same requirements on their own documents like passports and visas!

What's an Illegal Immigrant? Someone who had their paperwork lost by the INS, is the joke at the school I attend. The INS has at times lost, delayed, refused more people in than jumped the fence to immigrate.

That's the real problem.

Posted by: Crissa on June 19, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

slanted tom >"But aren't they the LDS folks, too?"

hmmm, let me put it this way

All geneologists & their data are NOT LDS while all (most ?) LDS folks might be geneologists of a sort

I think what you are thinking is that since the LDS community probably has the best/most complete geneological data (or so the common perspective is) then they are the geneology community

I`m simply thinking out loud here in design mode & it seems to me that the most complete database of human identity is held by the ENTIRE geneological community, as diverse & decentralized as it may be (which I consider a strength). Most of the rest of the responses here are all about some bureaucratic solution that is bound to be a boondoggle of one sort or another.

Yes, I am familiar w/biometrics, smart cards etc. They are tools, not solutions. Watch this video for an interesting perspective on ID & how it needs to work.

“Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.” - William James

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, sitting in a DMV line for 2 or 3 hours isn't quite as bad as standing in no-man's-land for days, trying to save you and your family's skin, getting out of Gaza and trying to get to the West Bank 55 miles away.

Oh, sorry. I forgot the Middle East doesn't exist in this Kevin'w world.

Excuse me while I throw up. Today, preznit is with Olmert saying all sorts of stupid shit -- as is a lot of the press -- but narry a mention.

Oh, and Chuck, he's not "phoning it in", he's disengaging and avoiding, and hitting triviality.

See ya!

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has 580 days left in office. 1/20/09 is his last day.
I was directed to a website that is known as bushslastday.com.
It will make you feel better. I printed the sheets and it made a difference.

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 19, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't count on 1/20/09 being the last day of the Bush administration. I am afraid we are going to be living with this fucking train wreck for the rest of our lives whether or not the fucking idiot is in office.

Posted by: angryspittle on June 19, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny that from that sentence alone, I know what your politics are.
Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 19, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

That's funny, because by what you typed, I see that your politics consists of entrenched, institutionalized ignorance, masquerading as an ideology.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 19, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

If being safe means going back to the days of standing in line for hours at the DMV only to find out you didn't bring the proper paperwork and have to come back later and wait for hours again - then the terrorists have already won.

Posted by: tRex on June 19, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

If being safe means going back to the days of standing in line for hours at the DMV only to find out you didn't bring the proper paperwork and have to come back later and wait for hours again - then the terrorists have already won.

Don't forget being verbally abused by the toupee-wearing fool behind the counter for very politely asking a reasonable question, being told he only has three fucking years until retirement and he can't wait until he never has to look at another fucking one of you people again (yes, he did drop the F bombs), and getting screamed at to "PAY ATTENTION" when he catches you innocently eyeing the "Please Treat Our Employees with Respect" sign behind his head.

But that could just be in Chicago.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

But that could just be in Chicago.

I dunno, sounds like a typical behind the scenes moment at a Bush press conference.

Posted by: tRex on June 19, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop >"...But that could just be in Chicago."

No, no

"...Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals..." - Iraq Study Group

Posted by: daCascadian on June 19, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

We're really going to trust the federal government that puts toddlers on the Do Not Fly list with no way to remove them to decide who is and is not a legal resident?

Jesus, but Yancey is naive. "No, really, I'm sure they'll administer this huge security program right, even if they've screwed the pooch on every other database they've tried to establish. I have faith!"

Posted by: Mnemosyne on June 19, 2007 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

conservative deflator:

i agree with your views, but could you PLEASE stop using the term "retard" as a pejorative?

as it happens, i work with people who have cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, rett syndrome, and other developmental disabilities, and i can assure you that the term "retard" is about as enlightened as the word "nigger."

please stop using this insulting language. you are verbally assaulting a population of human beings that can't even defend itself.

but for the grace of god go YOU.

thank you.

Posted by: neal in long beach on June 20, 2007 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

Changing the focus of the thread a bit....exactly how much freedom are people willing to sacrifice in the name of "security"? My impression is that people are starting to get sick and tired of all the sacrifices they are being asked to make.

You've got the fiasco with passport application, a government that spies on its own citizens and can arrest and detain them indefinitely, the inane passenger security controls to get on an airplane (ever wonder how stringent the back-end security such as for food service workers & mechanics at the airport is), and many more inconveniences.

Posted by: mfw13 on June 20, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the little fact that hardly anyone has ever died of terrorism. 3000 people is a lot for one day but it's not every day.

People need to calm down. Terrorism is really not the serious problem everyone religiously insists it is. We shouldn't be making our lives shitty over this.

Why is there almost a 1-1 correspondence between those who support IllegalImmigration and those who oppose things like REALID?

Nobody supports IllegalImmigration or illegal immigration either. It's illegal. We don't need new laws; we just need to enforce the laws we already have. Surely you'll understand if it's put that way.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on June 20, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

MillionthMonkey >"...Surely you'll understand if it's put that way."

I don`t think that is covered in the junior high school curricula

"Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect." - Bruce Schneier

Posted by: daCascadian on June 20, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't employers check status of employees? 90% of illegal workers are from Mexico and other south of the border countries, and do not speak english well. And are usually wearing the same clothes they wore crossing the border. Ok, some may be difficult to spot, but if given the chance to arrest illegals, I would find 100 or more the first day. Or didn't you notice them?

Posted by: artemiscal on June 20, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK
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