Open Letter to Supporters of “Immigration Reform”: Defend, Explain Support for National ID cards

June 25, 2013


Dear undocumented person, DREAMer & “immigrant advocate”, some of us have supported you, your cause, for decades, in some cases since before you or your CIR cause were born. Many of us in the immigrant ally community often draw inspiration and direction from your example, from your moral authority around immigration reform. At the same time, however, current “immigration reform” discussions have reached that delicate point at which “reform” is no longer just about immigrants anymore-if it ever really was. (i.e it’s also been and is about white privilege, empire and the decline of both). I write because as someone directly impacted by the possible institution of a national identification card system, as someone who knows the devastation wrought by such systems,and as a journalist who has investigated such systems, I have the moral responsibility to speak about this critically important issue.

As it becomes clear that “immigration reform” becomes an excuse for legalizing all manner of wickedness that has little to nothing to do with either immigrants or “reform”,  you should be aware that we have also reached the point at which there limits to your moral authority around certain issues in the “immigration reform” bill, issues like the totalitarian system of social, political control inherent in the national ID card proposal that’s in the”immigration reform” bill you say we need to support.

When I was covering state surveillance as a journalist, I tried to interview some of the national leaders in DC about national ID provisions Sen. Chuck Schumer was trying to introduce in previous CIR bills.  Many said “no comment”; Others called by long after my deadline.  None spoke on record. In muy opinion,  that’s not how we should deal with such colosally important issues. This is not how to give public face to talk of a “tradeoff.” It’s evasive, cowardly and dangerous. The national ID legislation is a Trojan horse that we can’t write off simplistically as “necessary to get Republican votes,” especially since a Democrat, Schumer, has been doing the bidding of high-tech moguls like Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who has offered the technology making national ID’s possible for more than a decade.


And if you want my support for this bill, I challenge any of you or some of the big powered money and political interests behind the bill to publicly defend things like national ID’s as something worthwhile. At the very least, you should educate the broader community about what you’re asking them to support, you should conduct massive polls that ask people-all people because all are impacted- if they want this. If you can’t or won’t, then as a comrade-in-arms, I again challenge you to break your silence, to be “undocumented and unafraid” and say publicly-on television, radio, news, internet- that “national ID cards” drag us all, citizen and non-citizen, into 21rst century totalitarianism.

With all this surveillance, border militarization and other nefarious garbage in it, the “immigration reform” bill has morphed into a monster that impacts more than 11 million people. It impacts US-MExico relations, (further) impacts all US citizens and hurts all workers in profound and profoundly bad ways that extend beyond the simplistic, infantile stories we’re being told about this bill. When it comes to things like national ID’s and foreign policy, we can’t let desperation, lousy strategists & negotiators and youthful or willful ignorance drag us deeper into the totalitarian abyss. Not trying to out anyone as much as break the silence some have tried to enforce by ascribing moral authority to things like national ID cards where no such moral authority exists.

Thank you

4 Responses to “Open Letter to Supporters of “Immigration Reform”: Defend, Explain Support for National ID cards”

  1. prernaplal Says:

    As one of the “dreamers” Roberto, I’m with you. I don’t think anyone can claim moral authority to impose a national ID system OR a 700 mile border fence premised on the deaths of more migrants.

  2. Alfonso Says:


    I agree with much of what you have posted, especially about the dangers of livening in 21st century police state, or what I call authoritarian statism in my book Reform Without Justice: Latino Migrant Politics and the Homeland Security State (Oxford University Press) forthcoming September 2013.

    I would just like to clarify that not all “dreamers” support the current bill or the militarization in exchange legalization trade off that has haunted every reform proposal since 2000. I know several young militant and critical undocumented youth that stand against the current bill and are very much aware of the contradictions and problems with the CIR debate. Most importantly, these young people and their allies are strategizing on how to fight for an alternative world.

    Thanks for having the courage to post this.

    Alfonso Gonzales

    • robvato Says:

      Thanks for sharing, Alfonso. Yes, SOME -NOT ALL- DREAMers backed this legislation and were silent about its consequences. Thanks for reminding me to clarify. R

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