Bad Idea: NY to Issue Identity Cards to Illegal Residents

Published on February 17th, 2014

By Joe Guzzardi
February 17, 2014

Making good on his campaign promise, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in his State of the City Address that New York will issue identity cards to illegal immigrants. De Blasio is, to say the least, controversial. Six weeks after his inauguration, normally the honeymoon period for newly elected officials, de Blasio has already alienated an important voting bloc by promoting a pre-K-12 program that a significant tax increase on the wealthy would help fund. The tax would also restore a $1 billion retiree health care plan.

But the ID may be more contentious. De Blasio, New York’s former Public Advocate and his pro-illegal immigration supporters argue that ID cards improve the relationship between the immigrant community and the local police. They add that IDs recognize immigrants’ humanity and dignity even though those immigrants broke federal immigration laws to enter the U.S. Moreover, a New York Times investigative report revealed that 6 million aliens pay payroll taxes. That means that to get their jobs, aliens compounded  their initial misdemeanor crime by fraudulently obtaining Social Security cards, falsifying I-9 forms under penalty of perjury or committing identity theft, all felonies. 

Importantly, officially issued municipal IDs are about more than acknowledging humanness. They endorse illegal immigration, make it easier for deportable aliens to remain and represent a security threat. 

The U.S. has travelled down the bogus identification road before. In 2000, the Mexican government encouraged its nationals living in the U.S. to get matricula consular cards. Although the FBI and the Justice Department warned against their use, Mexican consulates set up temporary stations inside churches, at shopping malls and in school cafeterias to help distribute nationwide as many cards as possible. Before long, despite its wide susceptibility to fraud and the fact that Mexico doesn’t recognize the card as valid ID, the matricula consular card was soon accepted at U.S. banks and many other institutions. 

Assuming the New York cards are eventually distributed, de Blasio would also be committing a felony. According to Sec. 274 of the federal immigration code, any action that: “encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law” is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment.

Like his predecessor Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio is an immigration reform advocate. Even so, the ID cards put innocent New Yorkers unnecessarily at risk. Once the essentially worthless cards become available, they could lure ill-intentioned people to New York. Then, without having to verify beyond a reasonable doubt who they are, they could assume multiple identities and, like the 911 terrorists, hide in plain sight. 

In 2008 when neighboring New Haven introduced alien ID cards, President George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff strongly opposed them. Noting in his speech to the Yale University Law School that only the federal government through a constitutionally passed law can convert an illegal immigrant into a legal resident, Chertoff said that “enabling people to break the law is not something I can endorse.”

Chertoff’s commitment to immigration law enforcement and not de Blasio’s blatant disregard for it should be the standard at the federal, state and municipal levels. Anything else encourages more illegal immigration and works against the common good.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]

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