Mayor Pete's Bright New Idea: Federal Illegal-Alien Resident Cards

By Dan Cadman on June 25, 2019

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg appeared on June 21 at a candidate forum hosted by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in conjunction with NBC Universal at its Telemundo studios.

Buttigieg is presently mayor of South Bend, Ind., which has been roiled since the police shooting of a black man in circumstances presently under investigation. I don't suggest that the shooting was or was not justified; I have no way to know. What is clear, though, is that Buttigieg's mayoral and police policies are now facing intense scrutiny that may not serve him well as a presidential candidate, despite his efforts to distance himself from the incident.

At the NALEO conference, Buttigieg attempted to polish his progressive credentials vis-a-vis immigration by suggesting that under a Buttigieg administration, the federal government would do, on a national level, what his office did at the city level, and issue official identification cards to all aliens regardless of status.

Here is a copy of the relevant portion of the exchange about that, according to a "preliminary" transcript of his remarks, issued by NBC Universal:

VANESSA HAUC: Wonderful, Mayor Buttigieg. So, when you were the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a city with a Latino population of just 13%, you made sure that — undocumented immigrants that were living in the city got a community resident card. Basically, this is an ID that serves as a legal form of identification. Why was this a priority for you? And would you consider a measure like this nationwide, if you become the president?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Yes, thank you. This was a priority for me, because it was a priority for so many in the community. We have a growing and vibrant Latino community in South Bend. As you said, it's approaching 15% now. And not all of those individuals are documented.

And as a city, my responsibility, as a mayor, is, in fact, not only to citizens but to residents. And what we realized is we had many residents who were not able to access things that the rest of us take for granted, just the ability to — pick up a prescription, the idea — that — that you can verify that you were the parent of a child that you're picking up from daycare.

And in an interaction with the police, the ability to establish who you are, something so important for residents, but also, for law enforcement to be able to do their job. And so as residents came to us and activists said — "You can help us here," I realized that we didn't have to wait on the federal government or the state government — to solve this problem.

We could establish a local, municipal ID card — not only for undocumented residents, I've got one myself — but something that would be very useful for undocumented residents. And yes, I do believe it is the responsibility of the federal government other [sic] make sure anyone who lives here, regardless of their immigration status, has a means to demonstrate that they are who they say they are. [Emphasis added.]

I've been scratching my head over that since it came out of his mouth. What, exactly, is the legal basis for the federal government to provide ground cover to illegal aliens, in the form of an officially issued and endorsed national identification document? What purpose does it serve? To allow them to go about their daily lives unmolested by troublesome, picayunish details such as the fact that they are in the United States in violation of the law? To permit them, perhaps, to obtain work to which they have no right, or to seek social benefits to which they are not entitled? To make it easier to bond out if and when arrested by state or local police on criminal charges?

Buttigieg asserts that doing this would make the country "safer" by ensuring that there is a record of who these individuals are, but of course that's absurd.

  • What kind of guidelines and fences would be erected around issuance of such documents to ensure that the data wasn't used to arrest these aliens? Because you can bet that in Mayor Pete's view, this would become a necessity.
  • Would the applications and documents themselves be deemed "confidential"? Or worse, would the government — perhaps Health and Human Services — issue the cards, but keep no database of who was given them, to be sure that the data didn't end up being available for immigration enforcement purposes? Think that's ridiculous? Some municipalities are already doing it. It's a recipe for fraud isn't it?
  • Would these documents be issued without benefit of checks against the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, or the Department of Homeland Security database that carries information about millions of aliens with adverse immigration histories — often because they are known to have criminal records in the United States or their home countries, or because they are gangbangers, or because they were previously deported multiple times, or because they are known alien smugglers, or due to one of the many dozens of other reasons that those repositories of adverse information exist?

Without any of that, the cards would be worse than worthless because they would help undesirable aliens burrow that much further into the country with false identities obtained and cemented into various federal, state, and local registries, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

In essence, Buttigieg is suggesting that illegal aliens be given these "get out of jail" cards as surrogates for the identity cards ("green cards") that are presented to permanent resident aliens when they obtain that lawful status. No need to worry about messy things like amnesty or amending the law, just give everyone a card! What a bright, shiny new idea. Now why hasn't anyone else thought of that?