Burch: Tennessee identities

Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Tennessee Republicans recently filed three bills designed to fight illegal immigration. This presents an irony of sorts, because when some conservatives want to deny non-heterosexuals equal rights, as we saw here in Nashville after Belmont-gate, they insist that new legislation is “too expensive” and is an intrusion of government into affairs that are none of its business. But when they want to do something about illegal immigration, suddenly all things are possible.

One of the new bills would require Tennessee employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system to check the names and social security numbers of new hires. Another bill would prohibit illegal aliens from receiving government benefits. A third bill would direct state and local police to determine the citizenship status of people they stop.

David Morales of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said the result would be similar to a police state. Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, said the third bill would invite racial profiling. 

But we have laws that prevent criminals and non-citizens from running for and holding public office. So it’s hard to understand why it would be wrong to prevent criminals and illegal aliens from receiving government benefits. If we are going to have laws that don’t turn Tennessee into a police state, it seems obvious that the laws should be as fair and unobtrusive as possible.

It would be unfair to racially profile people based on the color of their skin. But would it be in any way unfair to require everyone to carry identity cards and produce them when applying for a driver's license, registering children for school, etc.? We already produce birth certificates, social security cards and drivers' licenses, and this is reasonable.

Of course it would be unfair for the police to pull people over because of the way they look. But after someone has been pulled over for violating a traffic law, how can it be “wrong” to verify citizenship, since the police already verify that license plates and drivers’ licenses are valid?

For that matter, why limit ourselves to checking only citizenship status? Why not check to see if people have unpaid traffic tickets or taxes, or are deadbeat parents with unpaid child support, etc.? Identity cards could be used to make sure that only citizens in good standing get the benefits they deserve, while everyone else has to pony up, go to jail or leave the country.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary,” at www.thehypertexts.com.

205 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 2/18/11 at 5:49

It's difficult to determine if Mike Burch is being facetious, or not. The last sentence in this article seems to be a tongue-in-cheek comment.

The Republicans are concerned about the influx of all the dark-skinned, Catholic immigrants entering the USA from South of the border. They would not be so upset and aroused, if Caucasian evangelicals were streaming in from Canada.

And no lawmaker in either major party is concerned about the dangers and negative effects of dual-citizenship. For example, nobody in Washington DC has the chutzpah to suggest that dual-citizenship Israeli-Americans pose a dual-allegiance problem.

If someone in a high profile position was to complain about this situation, Hedy Weinberg and the ACLU, the ADL and the COPOMAJO would be all over that "anti-Semitic" complainant....to paraphrase the great Mohammad Ali, "like white on rice."

Some immigrants are sacrosanct, others are treated like dog shit.....it's a faith-based thing.

By: dargent7 on 2/18/11 at 5:59

Nemo: I had to build another shelf on my mantle to accomodate all the Awards you pass out. I have a dozen BF's and 4DC's and it isn't spring yet.
It bears repeating: The Tennessean cancelled their Three* Star Awards banquet dinner this year.
It's a shame, I always look forward to getting beat up or shot in the parking lot afterwards.

By: Loner on 2/18/11 at 6:15

I'm not from Tennessee, but around here, in Western New York, the police set up routine, unannounced "sobriety checkpoints" on the highways; perhaps they do this in TN as well.

Question: Will these DWI checkpoints become the "good reasons" to cover up the "real reasons"?

Once stopped, the police can start their interrogations and police dogs are now empowered to determine if a search is "reasonable", or not....search warrants are no longer required, if the police dog starts to bark. Truly, justice has gone to the dogs.

Citizenship checks will fit in nicely with this new police-state paradigm....."Achtung! You have zee papers?"

The right-wingers who propose these laws claim to be proponents of limited, constitutional government; but their actions reveal them to be autocrats, theocrats and petty tyrants.

By: Loner on 2/18/11 at 6:20

Not to mention your 4:20 Awards, D7, the so-called "Loner Awards".

No free feed for LTE champions? The economy really has gone bad....or else the free press is not so free anymore.

By: Loner on 2/18/11 at 6:24

Let's have our own City Paper Poster's Banquet.....Dutch treat...there will be a weapons pat-down prior to being seated, of course. What do you think, D7?

By: house_of_pain on 2/18/11 at 6:39

Good idea, Loner. A feisty feast.

Blanket, if you're out there...TGIPF.

By: dargent7 on 2/18/11 at 7:09

In Hawai'i, Maui, the police had "check points" all the time. 90% of the passers bye were tourists from outside hawai'i, so I don't think it was for illegals.
There's only one road connecting Wailea (south) to Lahaina (west).
So, if you attended a lu'au, and drank, mai tia's, you had to go approx. 25 miles back to your hotel, passing thru a check point.
What the police really cracked down on was seat-belts: "Click it-or Ticket". Available here in Tenn.
The fine there was $144.00. In Tenn., it's $10.00. I've already had two, and just pay it.
But, it gives them an excuse to ask for Insurance, registration, open containers, drugs, wants and warrants. Or, in my case, "driving without wearing pants".

By: dargent7 on 2/18/11 at 7:10

In Hawai'i, Maui, the police had "check points" all the time. 90% of the passers bye were tourists from outside hawai'i, so I don't think it was for illegals.
There's only one road connecting Wailea (south) to Lahaina (west).
So, if you attended a lu'au, and drank, mai tia's, you had to go approx. 25 miles back to your hotel, passing thru a check point.
What the police really cracked down on was seat-belts: "Click it-or Ticket". Available here in Tenn.
The fine there was $144.00. In Tenn., it's $10.00. I've already had two, and just pay it.
But, it gives them an excuse to ask for Insurance, registration, open containers, drugs, wants and warrants. Or, in my case, "driving without wearing pants".

By: dargent7 on 2/18/11 at 7:12

sorry for the double post.
Comcast has me on the hook for $139.00 a month, and always freezes, locks up.
This crap should be $49.00. Including a monthly lap dance.

By: serr8d on 2/18/11 at 7:26

There's far too many cops patrolling our city of Nashville for my liking, especially in downtown Nashville. Hungry to give out tickets they are, for annoyingly minor things (No Turn On RED at the I-40 exit ramp to 2nd Ave. was my last infraction). I stopped going to 2nd Avenue restaurants and bars on weekends, after that. Screw 'em. There's plenty of nice venues outside Davidson County.

If the primary purpose of a traffic stop is to 'fish' for additional information about a person, then the intent of that traffic stop is not legitimate AFAIC. And, if the traffic stop is primarily made to generate revenue for public coffers, again the intent is wrong.

And who can stand the State's DUI enforcement TV and radio commercials? I like to imagine those gruff-sounding, threatening bastiches running down the street clad only in soggy diapers and matching (brown) baby's hats. Helps to limit my swearing at the tube.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 7:29

Good morning.


By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 7:30

It would only be fair that all U.S citizens have identity cards or tattoos on forehead, so that the law enforcement agents would know each of us.

I think I read something like this in 1984.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 7:31

Sorry about your inconvenience Paul, with all of the awards you are getting. But you deservers them. ;-)

By: oyharward on 2/18/11 at 7:32


Illegal immigrants are already criminals. The first criminal activity for illegal immigrants is to falsify and/or to purchase a counterfeit identification such as a Social Security Card, driver’s license, etc. These purchased and/or otherwise fictitious documents are stolen records, often on living American taxpayers. Illegal immigrants pilfer from the taxpayers as they collect healthcare, housing, food, education, and other benefits. Many illegal immigrants bring illegal drugs, crime, and other unwanted activity. A great number of arrested illegal immigrants are numerous repeat criminals. While a large majority of Americans oppose “illegal immigration”, a substantial majority of Americans welcome “legal immigration”.

Americans do not desire any additional criminal activity. Do not “cram down our throats” “illegal immigration” legislation.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 7:39

I have never received any traffic tickets for not breaking the law.

If I was to get arrested for DUI it would because I was drunk.

I never turn on the red light at 2nd Ave, because it is not permitted.

By: dargent7 on 2/18/11 at 7:46

But, do you floss every day, Nemo?
That's really what we want to know.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 7:48

If you are going to stop this you will have to go after the employers to accomplish this. It is simple math. There are more looking for work than there are hiring. However this will not happen because, one the employers are hiring cheap help and two this is a hot topic issue to get votes.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 7:50

No Paul I don’t. The cost of floss is too much. lol

By: gdiafante on 2/18/11 at 7:51

I see serr8d...we should be able to pick and choose which laws and regulations we follow. On that line, I'm sure illegals think that the immigration policies of this country are like that stupid "no turn on red" crap...I didn't realize how much you and they have in common...lol

You're right, Nemo. Take away the incentives for illegals to come here and you go a long way towards solving this issue.

But that will never happen. It's easier to blame the others.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 8:00

I did see oyharward mention anything about Americas buying guns legal and then selling them to the drug Cartel in Mexico.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 8:05

shb I did not see oyharward....

By: oyharward on 2/18/11 at 8:33


“All” criminal activity should be aggressively prosecuted.

By: luvslife51 on 2/18/11 at 8:41

When one loses a loved one to illegals who commit vilolence by murder and car wrecks then one cannot blame someone for wanting checkpoints...

Then you find out that the person was deported only to be back in the state again..

The ones who are coming into any state illegally know that it is wrong...USA cannot take care of the whole world..

City Municipalities are going broke and whether one likes it or not a part of the cost is the services provided for illegals...and as a taxpayer I am tired of it.

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 8:41

Ditto to that serr8. I bought a condo down-town so I wouldn't have to deal with the For Profit vehicle enforcement machine. Those commercials p*ss me off.

I say to the hard-working unskilled and semi-skilled Catholics who want to work up here, "bring-em-on". You can't have a thriving, relatively well educated middle class without an underclass trying to find its way too. The stupid protectionists have it all wrong. Their cure is the cause of many of our problems.

Bring on the Buddhists from China and India too... they seem to have no malice toward our culture and society.

Bring on immigration reform and guest worker. Making it easier to do right than it is to do wrong will result in fewer people trying to subvert a more reasonable system. Then you can focus your border security on that rather than people just trying to feed their families and have a better life.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 8:43

Why didn’t you say that in your first post oyharward? I think it would have made you sound a little more fair and balanced.

By: bfra on 2/18/11 at 8:56

Ben, maybe if they turn that condo bldg., in the flood zone, which they are having trouble selling, into a holding tank for illegals, you would be happier. That way the owners could make a little money and you could enjoy the illegals company.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 8:56

Ben, for the first part of your post, if you drive with in the law and you will have no problems. ;-)

The second part of the post, I wish you would be clearer. lol

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 8:58

Oy... your rigidity with respect to lawlessness assumes absolute perfection in the development and creation of laws in the first place. It assumes the bodies of enforcement, prosecution, fines and incarceration serve only the purest interests of the original intent of the laws passed. Excuse me for saying it so harshly but that's f*cking idiotic.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:02

Again Ben I wish you would open up and tell what you really are trying to say. And Good Morning!!

By: revo-lou on 2/18/11 at 9:05

Funny how the Repubs are all about less government, from taxes, laws and regulations, but they are QUICK to make rules that do just the opposite of their stance.

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 9:05

Mornin' Nemo. Hope things are going well for you this fine day.

By: gdiafante on 2/18/11 at 9:07

What's idiotic is thinking that certain laws don't apply because they're inconvenient.

'No right on red' means just that, so don't sit there with that stupid surprised look on your face when you're busted and then start whining about a revenue machine.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:16

I’m doing fair Ben. I am home nursing a shoulder injury and hoping that it is nothing worse than soft tissue damage. I hope that it is not torn or a rotary cup.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:19

What I like about were you live Ben is that you can walk to some of Nashville nicest eatery and music.

By: Loner on 2/18/11 at 9:23

Yeah, too much sugar-coating on that, Ben....how do you really feel about Oy?

But seriously, it seems that the USA devotes a lot more time, treasure and troops into securing the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders in a highly permeable state.

We are securing the Iraq borders and the Afghanistan borders and that is one expensive, no-end-in-sight proposition....we can thank Junior Bush and the Neocons for that.

Of course, we US taxpayers also defend Israel's borders, even those taken by force in the holy wars in contravention of UN Resolutions. That's three billion per year...minimum.

In Bahrain, the US Navy provides the "security umbrella" for the Divine Right monarchy that cashes the exorbitant rent checks, for the US military bases on their soil. Uncle Sam is securing all the borders in the Persian Gulf...that ain't cheap.

The War Lobby, (Defense, Israel & Energy...DIE), is working to get the petroleum out of the Arab ground...so we can lay rubber in our new Hemi-powered Dodge Chargers and 426 HP Camaros.

Want to get the deficit under control? Bring the troops home and muster half of them out....put the other half on US border patrol.

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 9:24

It is nice, Nemo. Hope your shoulder is better soon. That doesn't sound pleasent.

By: oyharward on 2/18/11 at 9:27


Ben, America and our Constitution are based on laws, not men/women. All laws are equal to all, regardless of race, color, sex, or any other consideration.

All violators of our laws must be investigated, prosecuted, and punished is found guilty. America cannot allow illegal immigrants from wherever they are from go on without prosecution and punishment.

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 9:28

Best way to fix the border problem is come up with a more reasonable guest worker program so that it is easier to do right than to do wrong. Then we can focus border security on the small number of people who want to subvert the more reasonable and realistic system. Lining the army up against people trying to feed their families is morally vacuous.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:30

It is not too bad Ben as long as I don’t raise my arm higher than my elbow or lay on it or pull on it or shift gears in the car or….you know what I mean. lol

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 9:31

Oy... we've got 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. We are not a nation of laws... we are a nation of modern-day debtors prisions fed by ridiculous rules imposed on us by ignorant crusaders for the cause de jure; and by an ever growing for-profit police state.

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 9:32

usin' your left hand is like gettin' some strange, Nemo.

By: girliegirl on 2/18/11 at 9:35

Kudos....even if you weren't serious about this idea! It actually makes SENSE to detain and then run background checks. Talk about revenue generating!!! LOL

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:37

America cannot allow illegal immigrants from wherever they are from go on without prosecution and punishment.

The Native American wish they had thought of this concept 500 years ago.

By: bfra on 2/18/11 at 9:38

Ben, are you a member of the ACLU? What about the high rate of crimes, committed by illegals? Are they killing, raping & robbing, just to feed their family. They broke the law, when they crossed the border. Do you expect them to respect it anymore, once their are in this Country?

By: bfra on 2/18/11 at 9:40

Nemo - What immigration laws were in effect 500 yrs. ago?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:40

LMAO, Ben. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

By: BenDover on 2/18/11 at 9:42

I think the border restrictions are too strict and for that reason there are so many people subverting it we cannot separate those who are looking for a job to feed their family and those who are intent on crime. If the underground population was limited to the latter we would have much less trouble controlling it. It is the protectionist nature of the border issue that is causing the criminal issue.

By: bfra on 2/18/11 at 9:47

So Ben you think, if border restrictions were lessened, only the honorable, family loving, dogooders would come here. The mean, vicious, criminals would say, "that's too easy", and stay out. Oh my, Oh my!

By: Loner on 2/18/11 at 9:50

Oyharward, you are a stickler for law enforcement....no exceptions....the law is the law, right?

I have not heard a peep out of you, or any other God-fearing, right-winger, about how a certain country continues to violate the Hyde Amendment and still receives a generous foreign aid allotment annually, as if by entitlement. In fact the nation I'm talking about is the number one recipient of US foreign aid...and still, that nation flagrantly violates the Hyde Amendment every day.

The Hyde Amendment, as you probably know, prevents US foreign aid from going to nations that provide state-sponsored abortions. It is strictly enforced...except for this one special case. Have you guessed the identity of the scofflaw, beggar nation?

I hate to say it, but that nation is Israel, the Jewish state in Palestine.

But don't take my word for it; here is a link to Friends of Efrat Israel, an Israeli right-to-life group. Their stats claim that 50, 000 abortions are performed in Israel annually; for a nation with a population of only 6 million, that is a very high abortion rate. And Israel's "socialized medicine" provides the services for free, or on the cheap.

Some say the 50,000 figure is too high; but the low-ball figure is at 20,000. The actual number is probably somewhere in between those two estimates.

The link:


So, Oy, now that you know, are you now going to send an Email to the authorities denouncing this gross violation of the Hyde Amendment?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/18/11 at 9:50

You know how much a hate to agree with you Ben, (just kidding) but you are right. There is not anyway of telling who is only trying to make an honest living and who is not. To lump all non-whites as criminals is like saying that only whites are good and we know that is not true.