53 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2016 Last revised: 8 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 22, 2016
United States law, over the past two hundred years or so, has subjected people whose race rendered them noncitizens or of dubious citizenship to a variety of rules requiring that they carry identification documents at all times. Such laws fill a gap in the policing authority of the state, by connecting the individual’s physical body with the information the government has on file about him; they also entail humiliation and some degree of subordination. Accordingly, it’s not surprising that we’ve almost always imposed such requirements on people outside our circle of citizenship -- African-Americans in the antebellum South, Chinese immigrants, legally resident aliens. Today, though, there’s reason to think that we’re moving closer to a universal identity-papers regime.
Keywords: identification papers, freedom papers, geary act, draft card, slacker raids, smith act, alien registration, vagrancy, biometrics, ssn, real id
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