All Californians soon may have to carry tamperproof ID cards to prove they are U.S. citizens, if the state's political leaders have their way.
Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who has built his re-election campaign on a call for a crackdown on illegal immigration, raised the issue in an interview published Wednesday.
Wilson said an identification card will be necessary if Proposition 187 is approved by California voters on Nov. 8. The ballot measure would deny schooling, welfare and all but emergency health care to undocumented immigrants.
Dorothy Ehrlich, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, countered that an identification card is "a very simple quick fix that poses serious threats to civil liberties."
"You can't have an ID card without linking it to some kind of national government data base," she said, ". . . increasing the likelihood that people's intimate details could be very easily accessed without a person's knowledge."
But even opponents of Proposition 187 see a need for ID cards. They say that penalties against those who hire illegal aliens are a better way to stop the flood of illegals into California and that ID cards are the key to enforcement.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates that 1.7-million of California's 33-million residents are in the state illegally. Wilson contends the state spends $3-billion annually on health, education and social services for them.