Democrats and Republicans are joining forces in an attempt to create a national ID card in an effort to solve several problems. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) have proposed creation of a national identification card at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. This may help future genealogists track their twenty-first century ancestors but it won't help today's genealogists.
In fact, the requirement for national identification was supposedly solved with the creation of the Real ID program in 2005. That legislation required state motor vehicle bureaus to obtain and internally scan and store personal information similar to Social Security cards and birth certificates in order to create a national database. There is only one problem with Real ID program: almost all of the states ignored it. So, like good politicians everywhere, today's senators are planning to fix the "problem" by passing still more legislation.
The national ID card theoretically would solve all sorts of problems, ranging from illegal immigration to preventing terrorists from obtaining fraudulent IDs to identifying sex offenders to stamping out welfare fraud. Every politician, liberal and conservative alike, apparently sees the national ID card as the perfect solution for every problem.
Schumer and Graham said, “We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card. Each card’s unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card; no government database would house everyone’s information. The cards would not contain any private information, medical information or tracking devices. The card would be a high-tech version of the Social Security card that citizens already have.”
Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, suggests the plan would undoubtedly lead to a national database. He added that “there is no practical way of making a national identity document fraud-proof.”
What’s more, Richard Esguerra, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s in-house activist, notes that a national ID card likely would soon expand from its stated purpose. “Because of the ID card’s proposed universality, it will likely be requested and required by airlines, insurance agencies, health care providers, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and so forth,” he said.
The failed Real ID program had been planned to cost $24 billion. The newly planned national ID program undoubtedly will cost more, although no one yet has published any estimates.
My guess is that high quality, fake national ID cards will appear within a few weeks after the first real ones are created.