Public Opinion Supports National I.D.

By David Simcox
Volume 9, Number 2 (Winter 1998-1999)
Issue theme: "Secure identification and immigration enforcement"

Polls have shown that a majority of the American public supports the concept of a national ID card, but that the opposition to it is concentrated among the nation's elites -- professionals and business persons, college graduates, and those with high incomes, generally those groups most secure in their identity and status. A 1983 Gallup poll asked whether " everyone in the United States should be required to carry an ID card, such as a Social Security Card, or not?" Sixty-six percent of all respondents favored the card, and 31 percent opposed.

Gallup asked a similar question in 1993 whether respondents favored or opposed "Requiring all U.S. citizens and legal residents to have national ID cards to distinguish them from illegal immigrants?" . This time 57 percent favored the cards, and 41 percent opposed. In both polls, nonwhite respondents favored the cards more than did whites, though the proposal had majority support among both racial groupings. In 1983 Hispanic support for the card (77 percent) was significantly higher than among other ethnicities.

Hispanic opinion was not discretely measured in the 1993 poll, but it showed "immigrants" favoring the ID card 72 percent to 25 percent.1 A 1995 Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans favored a requirement "that all citizens and legal residents have a national ID card to distinguish them from illegal immigrants." Thirty-seven percent opposed. The 1995 poll had no breakdown by sub-groups.2

1 a) Gallup survey 226-G, Q5b of October, 1983

b) Gallup survey 1005 of June, 1993.

2 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll of July 9, 1995.

About the author

David Simcox is chairman of the policy board of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC think tank. He is a frequent author on immigration, population and secure I.D. issues.