LAWnYour Papers, Pleasenby R. Cort KirkwoodnNearly every film using Europe as anbackdrop for international intrigue,nespecially those featuring Nazisnin black leather trench coats, employs anscene in which the hero is crossingntransnational borders on a slow-movingntrain. As he nervously exhales a cloud ofnblue smoke from an unfiltered cigarette,n1 the authorities move from berth to berthnchecking identity papers. The Gestaponman flings open the door to a privatencar, letting in the roar of rolling trainnwheels grinding against the rails. Henarrests the subject of his inquiry or turnsnback the identification papers with ansilent yet suspicious or even knowingnsmirk, then slams the door shut, his twonmachine-guns toting subalterns in tow.nThe main problem for the men makingnThe Great Escape, for instance, wasnforging credible identity papers to travelnunmolested behind German linesnuntil they reached the Underground.nThe plot oi Casablanca? Saloon keepernRick Blaine must procure travelndocuments for concentration camp escapeenVictor Laszlo.nBut Nazis are hardly history’s lastngovernment oificials to force citizens toncarry some form of national identificationncard or work permit. Most Europeanncountries require it today, andnVITAL SIGNSnbecause illegal immigration in thesenUnited States has reached crisis proportions,nsome people, including oneninfluential Republican senator, want tonimport the idea.nLeading the charge is Senator AlannSimpson, author of the ImmigrationnReform and Control Act, more populariynknown as Simpson-Mazzoli, thengenesis for the identity card proposal.nThough Simpson-Mazzoli penalizesnemployers with fines and jail terms ifnthey hire illegal aliens, it’s had somenside effects Mr. Simpson didn’t anticipate:nto avoid any chance of a federalnpenalty, many employers simplynstopped hiring Americans who werenforeign-looking and sounding, mosflynHispanics and Asians. The GAO reportsnthat such discrimination is “serious”nand “widespread,” which has setnoff alarm bells in our racially sensitivenCongress.nMr. Simpson has answered themnwith Senate bill 2446, which wouldnauthorize the Health and Human Servicesnsecretary to issue a new SocialnSecurity card “resistant to counterfeitingnand tampering” that can “reliablyndetermine” that the “person with thenidenhty claimed by the bearer is eligiblento be employed in the UnitednStates.” The card would contain anphotograph and other improvements,nbut would “not be required to bencarried on one’s person,” its only purposenbeing to determine an individual’sneligibility to work in the United States.nSenator Daniel Moynihan has introducednsimilar legislation that wouldnrequire new Social Security cards to benmade of “tamper-resistant materialnsuch as plastic or polyester” and carrynthe accoutrements of a credit card:n”magnetic stripes, holograms and integratedncircuits.” These brave NewnWorld cards might also carry “biometric”ntools like fingerprints and retinalnscan systems. Though staff membernEd Lopez says Senator Moynihan’snpoint was to “have a better symbol of”nthe Social Security program — in othernwords, a nifty looking card to make anfinancially and philosophically bankruptnprogram look more prosperousnthan it really is — the legislation says itnnnmust be “developed to provide a morenreliable means of verifying eligibilitynfor employment under” Simpson-nMazzoli. The bills are awaiting actionnin the Judiciary and Finance committees.nThe goal is to close our open southernnborder by enhancing an employer’snability to determine whether he unknowinglynhires illegal aliens. Employersnwouldn’t discriminate becausenthey’d know they were hiring realnAmericanos. For their part, the illegalsnwould stay home because theynwouldn’t be able to find work.nSupporting the idea, David Simcoxnof the Center for Immigration Studiesnwarns, “the national problems [of illegalnimmigration] have reached thenpoint of severity that we must ask fornpublic cooperation” in using “secure”ndocuments to prove work eligibilitynand perhaps even citizenship. Mr’.nSimcox says four million Social Securitynnumbers were fraudulently used inn1986 and, quoting immigration scholarnDavid North, says that “1.9 millionnamnestied aliens had either no SocialnSecurity number or had bought numbersnfrom shady operators or made upntheir own numbers.” Moreover, “nearlyna fifth of the 1.8 million who appliednfor [Simpson-Mazzoli’s] general amnestynoriginally entered the countrynnot by sneaking across the border butnby passing legitimate ports of entrynusing documents that were altered ornobtained under false pretenses.” Nearlynsix million foreigners reside illegallynin the United States, a number growingnby 250,000 annually, and 500,000nof them carry false identification. Innshort, employers need a way to proventhey’re hiring American citizens thatnwill also discourage illegal immigration.nA more novel rationale for a federalnwork permit is that European countriesnhave adopted such permits or nationalnidentification cards. Says Mr. Simpson,n”nearly all Western nations, includingnCanada and Mexico, have employersanctionnlaws. . . . And if you’re goingnto classify countries that have a nationalnidentification card as a totalitarianngovernment, how do you describenNOVEMBER 1990/45n