Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Oakland ID Card Is a Really Terrible Idea

Oakland City Council is discussing issuing ID cards. They would be available to anyone who can prove s/he is a resident of Oakland; really, they're targeted at undocumented people (i.e., illegals).

This is a horrible idea.

First, let's get out of the way the arguments for an ID card: increased crime reporting by marginalized undocumented residents, and increased community participation. Good intention. Wrong approach.

I understand that illegals are just trying to make a living but a) if you haven't noticed, we're in a recession, and native-born Americans (including native Oaklanders) are struggling to find work too, and b) governments aren't charities. They're by the people for the people, funded by the people for the people - of the locality in question. It is therefore mind-boggling and unconscionable that this ID card program is being proposed at a time when Oakland's budget deficit is about to swallow the city. It is also unconscionable that any self-identifying patriotic and involved Oaklander does not find the whole thing an affront.

And as what seems to me a final insult, Oakland will be generating this information but refusing to share it with other agencies, including Federal ones. Is the whole (stated) rationale for the ID program not public safety? Doesn't restricting the use of card information to Oakland city government directly undermine this mission? If this initiative goes through, you bet your ass I want this information available to the Feds (including my own, if I get a card). Compared with Europe, the American ID system is famously fragmented. I could understand de la Fuente and Quan's sudden conversion to this anti-Federal States Rights position if they had conceived the program on a ranch in Wyoming, cleaning their rifles and muttering about the ATF and Ruby Ridge. But this is a major city, and if the city has the information, the Feds should be able to see it too. End of story.

Public safety is Job 1 for Oakland, but this initiative is incredibly misguided. You don't improve safety in the long- or near-term by legitimizing (and incentivizing) illegal residents in any way. As a loyal Oaklander, I want to see this city's limited resources used to help this city's legal residents, and I suspect that there are many out there who feel the same but are uncomfortable speaking as bluntly as I have here.

I also suspect that some readers will find my strident tone offensive, particularly because I strongly advocate smoothing the road for immigrants with earning power, who have no choice but to jump through the hoops because of the kinds of jobs they take - versus making life easier for illegals, who cannot contribute nearly as much to Oakland's economy. We have hard-fought labor and immigration laws to protect our workers. Let's not ignore those protections of a misinformed attempt to lower crime and act on ill-formed humanitarian impulses. The de facto implication of the pro-ID-card camp is that a day laborer should have an easier time making it in Oakland than someone with high-priced skills that will contribute to Oakland's economy (if both of them don't bother coming here legally). I challenge you to explain in your comment exactly why this should be.


  1. You should at least make an effort to rant against something the card will actually do. The Oakland ID card will do NOTHING to help an illegal immigrant get a job. The day laborer market is illegal becuase nobody involved is reporting their income, paying incmoe taxes, social security, self-employment, or disability taxes. And this is true of both the citizens and non-citizens involved in the market. The ID card is not going to change that, so no one is going to bother checking to see if the guy has one. If somebody wants a legal job they will still need a social security number, and this ID card will not provide that.

  2. There are already businesses floating the idea of promoting acceptance of the card so they an forward the information to the Feds.

  3. NotanIllegalAlienJune 3, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    God, I want to make sweet love to you and have your children.

  4. I understand that the card will not help people get a job, but it's the city spending your and my tax dollars (along with the tax dollars of Oakland residents probably much poorer than you or me) and making life easier for people who are breaking the law by being here.

    Whether or not the information in the cards is accessible to the Feds wouldn't change my mind, but it's a double-insult that as proposed the city would refuse to do this.

    And of COURSE you want to make sweet love to me. I'm hhhhhhHot!.