Having profoundly failed to enforce federal immigration law for the past several decades, the federal government is now angling to use the immigration debate as a means to accentuate its own power. The Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), among others, supports a national biometric I.D. card, calling it “the public’s way of contributing to solving the problem” of illegal immigration.

The Journal writes that “at least five of the eight senators writing the [immigration] bill”— Graham, Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), John McCain (R., Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), and Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) — “have backed biometric ID cards in the past.” What’s more, Graham, Schumer, and McCain “have said they support requiring the cards under the new law.”

The government-issued biometric cards would use fingerprints, scans of the veins on the top of a person’s hand, or other personal markers, and every American citizen would be required to produce his or her card to prove eligibility for work. The Journal writes that “privacy advocates and others” — such as those concerned with liberty — worry that such a card would eventually — and perhaps inevitably — be used to “track Americans at airports, hospitals, and through other facets of their lives.”

In the 1960s television classic, The Fugitive, a mild-mannered doctor accused of murder travels from town to town — almost as if in the Frontier West — doing good deeds and helping those in his path at nearly every turn. A major reason for the show’s popularity was the attractive level of freedom it depicted and the sense that the government, for all its power, isn’t always right. In an era in which surveillance cameras are increasingly appearing on our highways, and with senators — including several from solidly Republican states — now actively considering instituting a national biometric I.D. card, one wonders how long a show about someone who continually avoids the government’s watchful eye would even seem feasible.

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