US immigration policies aimed at identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants are often problematic. Research consistently shows that such policies lead to widespread racial profiling, indefinite detention without due process, damage to public safety, and many privacy and civil rights violations.
But the trend toward documentation extends beyond the immigrant community. The FBI has developed NextGen, a national biometric identification system for all Americans, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The Department of Homeland Security is overseeing the implementation of a Real ID, which will force states bring their driver’s licenses into compliance with federal standards, in effect creating a national I.D. card and database. DHS also oversees e-Verify, a national database employers can check to see if someone is legally allowed to work in the U.S., thereby creating the situation that people need the federal government’s permission to work.
The emphasis on documentation puts the federal government directly at the center of our lives, and the vast databases of our personal information creates significant privacy and security risks.
We are honored to present the December 2015 Patriot Award to Rasmea Odeh. Rasmea is being recognized for her work organizing immigrant women with the Arab Women’s Committee of the Arab American Action Network.
Sometimes, laws are downright mean-spirited. Many people have used that word to describe HB 318, a North Carolina law signed by Governor Pat McCrory at the end of October that forbids immigrants from using non-U.S. identification, promotes E-Verify, and bans Sanctuary Cities.