Los Angeles Libraries to Issue IDs to Illegal Immigrants; What’s Next?

Published on November 8th, 2012

By Joe Guzzardi
September 13, 2012

In California, there’s an inverse relationship between the state’s dire financial condition and its leaders’ creativity, at least when it comes to inventive legislation to accommodate illegal immigrants. The DREAM Act, signed last year by Governor Jerry Brown, is a good example. Even though California university tuition is through the roof for legal state residents, Brown approved the DREAM Act that rewards illegal immigrants with the same, lower instate tuition as citizens enjoy.

Here’s more evidence. Last month, the California Assembly passed the Trust Act, a bill that would prevent local law enforcement from turning over illegal immigrants detained during an arrest to federal authorities for possible deportation. The California Sheriffs Association, claiming that the legislature’s measure creates a sanctuary for criminals and guts the federal Secure Communities program, has strenuously objected.

Then, the Department of Motor Vehicles is tripping all over itself in an effort to issue licenses to “childhood arrivals” as soon as the Department of Homeland Security “defers” them from deportation.

One excuse DMV offers for its haste is that motorists are safer because licensed illegal immigrant drivers immediately buy insurance. But the Insurance Research Council studied the relationship between alien drivers and insurance in New Mexico (one of three states that allow illegal immigrants to drive) and found the opposite is true. During the period analyzed, 2000-2008, the percentage of insured drivers dropped.

The most recent alien outreach example comes from Los Angeles which is considering a plan so bizarre that I had to read it twice before becoming convinced that it’s actually serious.

Los Angeles officials have submitted an idea to the City Council for its consideration: a basic library card that would be converted to a multi-purpose identification document that could be used to open bank accounts, make direct deposits, send money off shore and establish credit at the local utility companies. The cards would carry a flat fee of $15-$20 as well as a monthly $2.99 fee.

Last month, City Councilman Richard Alarcon proposed that the L.A. Public Library system issue what would be called “City Services Cards” to anyone who can prove residency but not citizenship. According to a 2010 Pew Health Group report, an estimated 300,000 Los Angeles residents don’t have a bank account. Nearly 70 percent of them are foreign-born, earn between $10,000 and $15,000—the federal poverty level—annually and have, on average, lived in the United States 14 years.

But the revamped library card, which would have the bearer’s photo and address, would be a de facto, if rudimentary, identification card. Given its loose requirements, the glorified library card would be easy pickings for terrorists. What we learned from 9/11 is that when security isn’t a primary goal, “residency” could mean a receipt for a one week stay at a transient hotel.

Unfortunately, Los Angeles’ move is part of a national growing trend. Instead of discouraging illegal immigration, which municipalities can’t afford to support, more and more cities have handed out bogus IDs and encouraged otherwise legitimate institutions to accept them. In California, San Francisco, Richmond and Oakland have cards similar to Los Angeles’. Nationwide, the cities include Trenton, New Haven, Princeton, Asbury Park, Mercer County and Washington, D.C.

Fortunately, Alarcon’s proposal will likely hit resistance. Many poor immigrants who supposedly would benefit might not have the experience to handle banking affairs prudently and could become scam victims. And illegal immigrants already have a form of ID, the infamous matricula consular card.

With California gasping for breath as its deficit hovers around $16 billion, its housing market remains in the tank and taxpaying workers are abandoning the state in droves, the last thing the legislature should spend time on is converting a library card into valid state ID.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]

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