Based on a statement he made this week in defense of a bill he is proposing, you could assume Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who has made immigration reform in the post-9/11 world a priority, hasn’t had to stand in line at his local department of motor vehicles office lately.
The measure, which unfortunately is likely to become law because it is attached to an Iraq-Afghanistan funding bill, will require Americans to show four – count them, four – forms of identification before being allowed to receive or renew a driver’s license. Specifically, applicants would have to prove they are legally in the United States, document their Social Security number and home address, and show a photo ID.
There’s more. Sensenbrenner’s bill punishes states and their citizens for non-compliance. Residents of any state that doesn’t adopt this new measure would be barred from using their driver’s licenses to board commercial airliners and gain entrance to some federal buildings. And here’s the kicker: The new measure requires states to check your information against information contained in federal databases, so that means more than likely you won’t be able to get your license the same day, like you do now.
In defending this obvious Fourth Amendment violation, Sensenbrenner lectured, “If somebody has to stand in line a few minutes more (for a license), that’s a small price to pay than having thousands or tens of thousands of people die in a terrorist attack.”
Sensenbrenner’s sardonic explanation notwithstanding, I believe his heart is in the right place. But ironically, he may be creating another target of opportunity for terrorists. Any future attack might now involve suicide pilots flying planes into department of motor vehicle offices, where there will be a logjam of millions of Americans enduring more bureaucracy within a structure that is already not known for speed and efficiency.
This proposal comes the same week the Department of Homeland Security announced it will begin requiring airlines, ticket and travel agencies to obtain more personal information from each passenger, ostensibly so they can be compared to government watch terrorism watch lists. With the TSA requirement and Sensenbrenner’s bill, I wonder if requiring everyone to log in and out of our homes with a government-issued ID card can be that far behind.
Are you getting the impression that Americans, more than illegal aliens or terrorists, are suffering from all of this security “reform?” At every juncture legitimate citizens are getting punished for the sins of illegitimate residents. Worse, it is Republicans, not the socialists who inhabit the Democratic Party, who are foisting all of these draconian new rights-robbing rules upon us.
As to Sensenbrenner’s bill, it completely misses the mark as an immigration reform measure. Congress should be doing more to stop illegals at our borders, punishing employers who hire them, and putting more pressure on other governments (Mexico comes to mind) to help curb the problem, not drawing a line in the tile at the local DMV.
And as an anti-terrorist bill, none of Sensenbrenner’s requirements are going to stop determined attackers. Documents can be forged; addresses made up; photo IDs created effortlessly. All this measure is going to do – besides violating the constitutional privacy rights of American citizens – is add to the mind-numbing plethora of time- and energy-consuming regulations we must already comply with on a daily basis. Not to mention the fact that it will cost states hundreds of millions of additional dollars they don’t have to provide (weren’t Republicans, once upon a time, against unfunded mandates?).
Supporters of this measure may argue the government has to do something to combat terrorism. I would argue that’s true, but doing something doesn’t require Uncle Sam to destroy the Bill of Rights. Even in high-risk states like Israel, 100 percent security isn’t feasible.
In the end, no matter what steps are taken, they must occur within the parameters of the constitutional system our lawmakers were sworn to uphold. That’s not some trite ideal, it’s the system of government we have.
Here are some better suggestions. How about we put the clamps on our open borders, as a first step to combating terrorist infiltration? How about we enforce the law forbidding U.S. employers to hire illegal aliens? And if we’re going to track and inconvenience people, how about we track and inconvenience non-citizens instead, for a change?
These steps would solve a whole lot of our security and immigration problems without causing needless additional suffering among our own people.
Osama bin Laden may or may not have planned it, but his attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 have succeeded in robbing Americans of nearly all that remained of many of our freedoms, especially our right and expectation of privacy. In a political coup of sorts, he has forced us to butcher our own liberties. In an effort to protect us from him, we are punishing ourselves.
With security “reform” like this, who needs more enemies?