In September of 1996, President Clinton signed into law, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Buried at approximately page 650 of the new national Defense Bill, also known as Public Law 104-208, Part B, Title IV, the American public was given a national ID card. With no fanfare, no publicity and no scrutiny, the bill easily avoided the watchful eyes of even its most aggressive opponents.
The Coalition to Repeal the Fingerprints Law, a Georgia grassroots movement trying to rid the state of the new requirement to give digital fingerprints in order to obtain a state ID or driver's license, recently found the national ID tie. The group found that the national law not only mandates a national ID card, but found how it is to be used.
In Section 401-403, pilot programs have been initiated by the U.S. Attorney General, one of which is the "Machine Readable Document Pilot Program". In this particular program, employers would have to "procure" a document reader linked to the federal government's Social Security Administration in order to have the potential employee swipe their new driver's license/national ID card through the reader. Then, it would be up to the federal government to either approve or disapprove the applicant for employment.
Section 326 and 327 provide $5,000,000 per year grants to each state participating in any of the three pilot programs. The money has been allocated through the Criminal Alien Tracking Center and is called the Criminal Alien Identification System. The "automated identification system", which is to be used by "Federal, State, and local law enforcement" and will "provide for recording of fingerprints of aliens previously arrested and removed". The grants run from "fiscal years 1997 through 2001".
Additionally, Section 656 of the new law states that "after October 1, 2000, Federal agencies may only accept as proof of identity driver's licenses that conform to standards developed by the Secretary of the Treasury", after consultation with state motor vehicle officials and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The AAMVA sees digital fingerprinting as the best way to go in driver's license identifiers.
Fearing that all Americans were about to be digitally tattooed under the government's paranoiac guise of catching everything from aliens to dead beat dads, Congressman Dick Armey (R-TX) was one of the first to voice his opinion. Armey called the move, "an abomination and wholly at odds with the American tradition of individual freedom". Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) joined Armey in signing a letter denouncing the computer registry and tracking system and Jack Kemp announced in the New York Times that this was, "an anti-privacy, anti-business and anti-American approach" and that "it was no way to run immigration policy". Of course, all this was said before the bills were snuck through in the last defense bill. There is a possibility at this time, they don't even know the proposed legislation became law.
For the first time in American history and reminiscent of Communist countries, our government would have the ability to grant approval before a private company enters into private employment contracts with private citizens. Because of the nature of the employment system alone, personal information would be accessible to local agencies and anyone who even claims to be an employer. The government would have comprehensive files of all American citizen's names, date of birth, place of birth, mother's maiden names, Social Security numbers, gender, race, driving records, child support payments, divorce status, hair color, eye color, height, weight, and anything else they may dream up in the future.
On May 10, 1995, a hearing was held by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration entitled, "Verification of Applicant Identity for the Purposes of Employment and Public Assistance". The hearing was chaired by Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) and attended by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and John Kyl (R-AZ). Robert Razor of the Secret Service Financial Crimes Division gave the Subcommittee an explanation of the emerging biometric technological role in personal identification. He said, "The use of biometrics is the means by which an individual may be conclusively identified. There are two types of biometric identifiers: physical and behavioral characteristics. Physiological biometrics include facial features, hand geometry, retinal and iris patterns, DNA, and fingerprints. Behavioral characteristics include voice characteristics and signature analysis."
Now the people of America not only must have digital tattoos on their driver's licenses, we must also give information to the government when boarding commercial aircraft, called personality profiles, along with a government ID card. Of course, this guise is in order to catch some would be terrorist. Dianne Feinstein, author of the national ID law, explained in a Capitol Hill magazine that it was her intention to see Congress immediately implement a national identity system where every American is required to carry a card with a "magnetic strip on it which the bearer's unique voice, retina pattern, or fingerprint is digitally encoded." She also stated that "fifteen years ago, they would have torn the building down". We probably would have if we had known about it. I hope she doesn't mind that Georgia left out the magnetic strip and replaced it with two dimensional bar-coding.
During closing remarks of the May 10 Subcommittee meeting, Senator Alan Simpson stated, "There is much to do here, but I was just saying to Ted [Kennedy] before he left, a hearing like this fifteen years ago, would have torn the building down. And here we are today, just a bunch of us, kind of sitting around and no media, no nothing. This is fine with me. I get tired of them on this issue."
Based on other federal mandates, the Associated Press reported in the Wichita Eagle on March 6, 1997 that the "Federal government mandates a registry of new employees: State lawmakers balk at bill required by Congress to ease child support collection. A bill designed to increase state collection of child support payments was described as a ``Big Brother'' move and drew little support from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. But the federal government says the legislature must pass it or the state could lose as much as $29 million in federal funds." The bill referred to requires the state to set up a "new hires directory" that would require all employers to report to the state information about every newly hired employee. The directory would be made available to the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services for child support collections. In the article, they reported that "the date in Kansas and other states, although confidential, would be available to a national directory of new hires." They further reported that all people would be listed, regardless of age and even those that have no child support obligation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee in Kansas was quick to offer comments condemning the federal mandate. Senator Mike Harris from Wichita, the committee chairman said, "This is the most potentially significant, far-reaching piece of legislation that has come through this committee". The legislators from both parties referred to "Big Brother" and George Orwell's novel, 1984. Kansas State Senator Paul Feleciano of Wichita said, "If ever we give witness to Big Brother watching over us, this is the beginning of it". Sen. Ed Pugh of Wamego had sharper words for the bill. He said, "I don't see how it can be drafted by someone in a free society. It's a perfect example of the ends justifying the means." These Kansas lawmakers are not referring to the Immigration Act, but to another new federal law, the Welfare Reform Act. If Kansas refuses to have a state bill in place later this year, they will loose as much as $29 million in federal funds for child support collection. Senator Pugh said it is a "wholesale assault on Constitutional rights".
The new driver's license requirement mandating fingerprints for Georgia driver's and those wanting ID cards passed the state legislature with virtually no public or media attention in April of 1996. The first known announcement was on the local Atlanta news announcing an October 1996 date to begin fingerprinting. Cyndee Parker, now a coordinator for the Coalition to Repeal the Fingerprint Law in Georgia began the campaign to repeal the egregious law.
Many Georgia lawmakers joined in on the repeal efforts. Representatives Mitchell Kaye, Brian Joyce, Vernon Jones and Senator Pam Glanton were the first to help lead the repeal efforts in the General Assembly of Georgia. Eight bills were drawn by the House and one by the Senate. Mitchell Kaye refers to the law as, "tracking us like a can of dog food".
Due to the Governor's and House Speaker's manipulations, all eight House bills were held hostage by the House Motor Vehicle's Committee and were never voted on. The Senate overwhelmingly passed a Senate Bill, only to find it placed as hostage, along with the other bills in Motor Vehicles. On the last night of the Georgia Session, Senator Glanton amended another driver's license related bill and it also was never voted on by the House due to the same manipulations, illegal rule changes and an incredible amount of confusion on the House Floor. Governor Miller stated numerous times during the year that he would veto any repeal effort. House Speaker Tom Murphy was happy to see that the Governor did not have to get out his veto pen.
The Coalition will now take their story around the state using town hall meetings. The repeal effort has made very strange political bedfellows, with such groups as the ACLU, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Libertarian Party of Georgia, the Christian Coalition, American's for Lawful Government, ABATE a motorcycle rider's education group, and many other diverse groups, totaling about 20 in all and growing rapidly. The Coalition believes that once Georgian's know about the federal implications, the groundswell will grow so large that the Governor will have no choice but rid the state of the obviously federally mandated bill. The group says that at least the State of Washington was honest with its citizens when proposing the same fingerprinting legislation. Right in Section 1 of the Washington bill, they state this is a national ID card in conformity with federal mandates.
Georgia just slipped theirs through unnoticed by lawmakers and the public, the same way the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was. The group also had to notify their United States Congressional Representatives and Senators, as they were unaware of the facts as well. Both State and Federal Representatives and Senators had absolutely no knowledge they had passed the new laws until the Coalition brought it to their attention.
The Coaltion to Repeal the Fingerprints Law can be reached at 404/250-8105; visit their web site at www.mcwebs.com/repeal/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org