New Green Card to Suggest Greener Pastures for Immigrants?

The U.S. government unveils a new green card. It shows a lot more coherence than immigration policy itself.

Redesigned Green Card

The government hasn’t shown much love for immigrants of late, whatwith Arizona passing the “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow,segregation forever” bill, and 10 other states hot on the trail.


Sowhen U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services unveiled aredesigned green card yesterday,we braced ourselves. Surely it would involve some horrid, jingoistic mashup of eagles andflags and rah-rah-U.S.A. crap. Right? Luckily, improbably, we were wrong.

Green Card

Makeno mistake. Tech-wise, the green card is plenty nativistic. It wasdesigned to “deter immigration fraud“and incorporates “several major new security features” to that end.Among them: laser-engraved fingerprints; high-res micro-images on theback of the card that are nearly impossible to reproduce; and embeddedradio frequency identification that lets border protection officers scan cards from afar like a sort of digital Panopticon.

Butfrom a pure aesthetic standpoint, the card has hope written all overit. The most prominent image is of the Statue of Liberty. The Statue ofLiberty, of course, is one of the first things you see when you sailinto the New York harbor and has stood as a sunny welcome sign toshipboard immigrants for more than 100 years. It’s the symbol of the American Dream. Emblazoning it on the green card reads like a greeting to America with great, big, open arms.

Onthe back of the card, the high-res micro-images depict state flags andU.S. presidents, but they’re so small, they might as well be kittens. Not exactly a plea for patriotism. Contrast that to the U.S. passport, which was redesigned in 2007 aftersix years of planning, and resembled, well, a jingoistic mashup ofeagles and flags and rah-rah-U.S.A. camp.

Most importantly, the card is actually green. Overthe years, it has been pink, beige, blue — pretty much anything butgreen. (Green was among the earliest colors, though not the first one.) Restoringthe card to the color for which it was named suggests some move toward coherence. Now if only immigration policy could do the same.


About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D