As the fireworks exploded in a breath-taking array of color over the Hudson River last night, we wondered if anyone stopped to think about what the Fourth of July is all about.

Now 236 years of age, the U.S. has been known as the gateway to the world, a place where immigrants from every corner of this planet have-and continue to-come to make a better life for themselves.

For many years, immigration was kept under a controlled flow by the U.S. government. Yet somewhere along the way, illegal immigration-namely near the border with Mexico-exploded to the point where the government could no longer control it effectively.

Border states like Arizona have now become highways used by thousands of illegals each year to gain access into the U.S. Frustrated that the federal government wasn’t doing enough to slow this illegal traffic down, Arizona’s government came up with SB 1070, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” a law that quickly became a lightning rod of controversy.

Included in the Arizona law is something dubbed the “show me your papers” provision, which allows police officers to ask suspected immigrants about their citizenship status.

A lawsuit filed against Arizona seeking to nullify the law eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently struck down several of the law’s provisions on the grounds that they preempt federal law. However, the high court upheld the “show me your papers” regulation.

That precept, however, fails to acknowledge that in America very few, if any, people carry “papers” that would convince police that they are legal-which brings the need for a national ID card back into the limelight.

The idea of such a form of identification makes some Americans cringe and start yelling about a police state in the making. However, the acceptance of a driver’s license is considered a credible form of identification-even though they’re not a certain indicator of citizenship since different states have different qualifications about who is eligible to receive them.

It has been argued that a national ID card invades the privacy of the holder, but in 21st century America, it seems that privacy is being voluntarily abandoned by the public. With every swipe of a credit or debit card, they release their personal information to retailers and financial institutions for the purpose of paying bills. Social media websites like Facebook have become havens for people to reveal the most intimate details of their life.

The U.S. Government Printing Office already embeds biometric information in passports and offers a border-crossing smart card for Americans who regularly commute between the U.S. and Mexico or Canada.

Some hotels in Europe are even using a high-tech fingerprinting system instead of a room key. Talk about something out of George Orwell’s “1984.”

At some point, members of Congress will be forced into dealing with a sensible immigration bill. A tamper-proof and uniform national ID card isn’t the be-all, end-all solution, but it’s a good start toward getting immigration back under control.

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