Lost in the November Election Day shuffle is the Los Angeles City Council’s 12-1 vote to proceed with the photo ID cards that will allow as many as 400,000 illegal immigrants not only to identify themselves but also to access banking services, pay bills, check out library cards and—get this one—use city job centers. Apparently, Councilman Richard Alarcón and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa don’t know—or don’t care about— the city’s unemployment rate. As of October, the rate stood at an artificially low 10.2 percent.
True unemployment is much higher. Since January, more than 100,000 Los Angeles workers stopped looking for jobs. [Workers Give Up in Los Angeles, by Annalyn Censky, CNN Money, September 12, 2012]
Predictably, the pro-immigration council lavishly praised the ID. Dennis Zine, reflecting the majority opinion, said he could see no “downside” even though the standards for obtaining the ID are negligible and its existence an accommodation for aliens. Ed Reyes called the card a way for the city's poorest workers to "come out into the light," a variation on “out of the shadows.”
Mitch Englander, Republican, cast the sole "no" vote. Englander doubts that the fees the card generates would offset its costs and questions the importance of alien IDs.
"This is starting an entirely new program in Los Angeles when we are at the fiscal cliff. I think it's important to focus on our core functions … before expanding into services that aren't under our purview." [L.A. Council Approves ID Cards for City Residents, by Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2012]
The council’s next step is to select a vendor to create and administer the card’s issuance. Similar cards exist in Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond.
Here are two interesting footnotes to the story. First, in what may represent poetic justice, Alarcón is out of politics for the first time in 20 years—no loss to law abiding citizens. He served his last term on the council and voters rejected his bid for a state assembly seat, in large part because he and his wife are facing fraud and perjury charges.
Second, scattered among the disingenuous arguments advocates offered attempting to explain why Los Angeles aliens deserve and need ID cards is this misleading statement from Betty Hung, policy director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Hung falsely claims that some schools won't release kids into the custody of an adult who has no identification. That’s wrong. No illegal immigrant who is known to the school as a child’s parent will be prevented from picking him up. At the same time, no one with identification will be allowed to pick up a child if the school doesn’t recognize the adult as the parent or authorized guardian.
Los Angeles residents should go to the CAPS Legislative Alert to send a FAX opposing IDs for illegal aliens.