Category Archives: Harper’s

A Study in Green:
My national I.D. card, your civil liberties

February 2002


Late last September, amid a newfound preoccupation with “homeland security,” our nation’s leaders publicly discussed the possibility of issuing national identity cards to U.S. residents. The proposal has since stalled, but for roughly 13 million of U.S. who are permanent legal immigrants its underlying premise is our daily reality. At all times, I am required by law to carry this, my Alien Registration Receipt Card (or “Green Card”). Unlike a driver’s license, this Green Card does not allow me simply to engage in some specific activity; rather, my possession of it is a precondition for my mere presence in the country. As would be the case with a national I.D., the card’s purpose is quite explicitly to monitor me, and it serves, furthermore, as a visible badge of the constriction of my civil liberties. If you are curious to know what your rights may come to look like in twenty-first-century America, ask me; in many respects, I already live there. (more…)

Posted in Harper's, Magazines