Tom DeWeese Responds to Rep. Barrett – H.R. 3429 is Part of Growing National ID Card

January 31, 2000

To all of those loyal activists who called Rep. Barrett’s office to oppose H.R.3429 only to be told that Tom DeWeese had made a mistake and would rescind the charge that H.R.3429 is part of the national ID threat – here is my response. I have researched this bill. It is part of a growing threat. We must not back down simply because one Congressman disagrees with our assessment of his bill.

Our attack on H.R. 3429 last week was felt throughout Capitol Hill. We have fired a shot across the bow of those who continue to push for a national ID card. We must keep up the pressure. We can win this battle.

Please read my response to Rep. Barrett and then renew the fight, make the calls and pass this on to as many people as possible. And the next time a Congressional staffer tells you that Tom DeWeese is backing down on a fight – wait until you hear it from ME!

January 28, 2000

Dear Congressman Barrett:

Thank you for you letter of January 21, 2000 concerning my Action Alert regarding H.R. 3429. While I mean no disrespect, my reaction to your letter and to the correspondence from your staffer, Cecilia Daly, is “bull.”

I, of course, did read your bill before issuing our alert. Not only that, I had it analyzed by experts on the issue of privacy and the national ID card. In addition, we looked at the bill in light of other new bills and existing laws. I find your denial that H.R. 3429 is part of the establishment of a national ID card to be little more than a verbal shell game, very similar to that perpetrated by Congressman Lamar Smith during the debate over the repeal of Section 656b of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. He too, adamantly assured us that his language in no way constituted the establishment of a national ID. But a very courageous Senator Richard Shelby and several members of Congress obviously felt otherwise and they convinced a majority of the Congress to join them in its repeal.

You say H.R. 3429 does not establish a national ID card. In fact, you specifically placed such wording in the bill. Of course, simply saying it doesn’t establish a national ID card does not make it so. In truth, by itself, the bill doesn’t specifically establish the card. But overlay it with existing laws and other pending legislation and a very different picture emerges. The greatest single ingredient that would allow the establishment of a national ID card is the creation of a central identifying number that can be used to unify various private and government computer data banks. The Social Security Number has long been the number of choice. Your bill further strengthens the use of that number for identification purposes and allows the government to unify existing data banks at the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Nationality Service. And for the first time, your bill, under section (i) AUTHORIZATION, allows federal agencies to use Social Security records for criminal enforcement.

True, no new data banks are created under H.R.3429, but just allowing existing ones to share information builds a serious threat to personal privacy. Add the data banks from these agencies to attempts by Health and Human Services to establish identification data banks on medical records, along with those at the IRS, and a massive information mechanism begins to take form. All of them use the Social Security number as the central identifying number. In addition, by using these federal databanks to verify the work eligibility of newly hired American workers you are creating an on-line virtual file, accessible to an endless number of federal bureaucrats. The use of those records and the requirement of federal verification of eligible workers would mean that the federal government would literally serve as a clearing house for all hiring decisions made in the private sector. How does such power differ from the establishment of a national identification card?

Your bill does not live in a vacuum. It is convenient for you to say that it doesn’t create a national ID card. However, overlay it with H.R. 191, recently introduced by Congressman Bill McCollum. His bill is also quick to state that it does not create a national ID card. But in its attempts to devise methods to make the Social Security card “as secure against counterfeiting as the 100 dollar Federal Reserve Note,” complying regulations will lead to placing photos or other identifying information on that card. Such a provision will be one more step toward establishing the Social Security card as a national ID. Considering numerous existing regulations requiring the use of the SS#, there can simply be no rational argument to the contrary. How will an employer verify that the person standing in front of him is who he actually says he is? The answer is simple: place a photo or fingerprint on the Social Security card. H.R. 191 takes care of that problem. Your bill sets up the mechanism to need such a card.

Ah, but you say such a program is purely “voluntary.” I ask, voluntary for whom? The business? The worker? Who makes the decision to participate in your program? Why is a Republican creating yet another program that would force businesses to collect information for the federal government? Why is it businesses’ responsibility? Just because an enterprising American is foolish enough to take that step into creating his own business, he suddenly becomes the nation’s unpaid tax collector. Now you want him to do what the Immigration Service has never been able to do – verify who is a real American. And if he doesn’t, the Justice Department may pay him a visit.

I would suggest that the word “voluntary” is simply used as a smoke screen to get this bill in the door. Once the mechanism is in place, then its supporters can lobby to make it mandatory. I once had an IRS agent tell me that paying federal income taxes was purely “voluntary.” In fact the law does say that. I instantly screamed, “then I don’t want to pay!” He immediately replied, “but you have to!” He had the power of the federal government and its law-enforcement team behind him – so I paid. So much for your voluntary government program.

Illegal immigration is a very serious problem in this nation. Of that fact there is no disagreement. However, misguided efforts that would require 270 million Americans to carry the burden to prove they have a legal right to a job in hopes of stopping a minority of law breakers is not the answer. Nor are attempts to create counterfeit-proof documents. The Immigration Service only recently issued “counterfeit-proof ” Green Cards. Within hours of their introduction counterfeit copies were on the streets. Social Security cards with fingerprints will only burden honest Americans.

The truth is, Congressman Barrett, your bill is very much a part of the ever- growing mechanism to establish a national ID card. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been very vocal in their opposition to such an invasion of personal privacy. Again and again we have beaten back attempts to establish a national ID card. Each time we prevail, another attempt is made. Yours is the latest. Our mission is to stop it. And I assure you we will not rest until we do.

Thomas A. DeWeese, President


Last week we urged you to call Congressman Bill Goodling, Chairman of the Education and Workforce committee, to oppose H.R. 3429. Since then we have been informed that his committee has secondary jurisdiction over the bill and he will not hold hearings on the bill before the primary committee does. After the volume of calls they received in opposition to this matter, it is doubtful he’ll be eager to push the bill.

Now we must focus on the committee which has primary jurisdiction over H.R. 3429— the Judiciary. It has been assigned to the subcommittee of Immigration and Claims, chaired by none other than Texas Congressman Lamar Smith— the very man who authored the National ID language that was repealed last October. We have no chance of convincing Smith to dump H.R. 3429. That’s why it is urgent that you call Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the full Judiciary Committee. He has the power to kill the bill.

1. Call Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee (202-225-3951), and tell him you oppose H.R. 3429 and any other bill that will invade personal privacy, attempt to link data bases or establish requirements for a national identification system. You may also e-mail the committee at: [email protected].

2. Call your Congressman and urge him to oppose H.R. 3429. It is most effective if you call your Congressman’s district office, but if you cannot access that number, call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 225-3121.

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Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.