On Tuesday, The Times reported on a proposal in Los Angeles to turn library cards into photo IDs that illegal immigrants could use to open bank accounts and access city services.
My first reaction to the story, I must confess, was to crack a joke. In recommending it to Facebook friends, I added the line: “Just don't forget to return your books or your checks might bounce.”
But the photo ID library card is a serious idea with serious advantages for illegal immigrants. City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who proposed the concept, noted that in his Northeast Valley district, some immigrants end up being gouged by payday lenders or robbed if they keep large sums of cash on hand. That wouldn’t happen if they could open bank accounts.
Predictably, there is opposition to the idea. A spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform complained that the cards could be exploited by terrorists and criminals and would encourage illegal immigration. (The first assertion is debatable, the second valid only in the sense that anything that makes life easier for illegal immigrants can be said to encourage illegal immigration.)