Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On the Border

The Arizona Senate passed a law that would make citizens of Arizona responsible for asking for proof of citizenship when they have reason to suspect any random person they see is in the US illegally.

Stop and think about that.

How would any random person know whether or not any other person was legally residing in the US? Honestly, I can't say I've seen any proof of citizenship of most people I know. I've seen my boss' driver's license, but I've never seen any of my coworkers, for example. They could all be illegal aliens, should I call the police?

HAHA. Of course not. My coworkers are all white. What am I thinking?

I lived in El Paso, TX, about 2 miles from the border with Mexico, for 3 years, so let me tell you that the above is no exaggeration. We used to see Border Patrol trucks all the time. My family never got stopped by Border Patrol, even when our license plate was stolen and we drove around for a week without one. My friends, my Hispanic, dusky, black-haired, black-eyed friends? They got stopped at least once a week. My fair-haired, pale-skinned Hispanic friends, on the other hand, got stopped as often as I did. Never.

I knew, for a fact, that my friends in El Paso were legals. I know because they had to pull out identification regularly to show to Border Patrol. Well, I knew that my brown friends in El Paso were legal, I have no idea if my fairer friends were or not. Actually, this one girl in gym was illegal*, and being a blue-eyed blonde**, she was there at graduation.

This law, if the Governor signs it, will require the citizens of Arizona to be racists, to judge their neighbors and coworkers by skin colour alone. They will have no other way of judging. Ah, the 21st Century, bringing me useless 3D movies (I lack sufficient depth perception), increased homophobia and now legally required racism. Fantastic!

*Don't be shocked. I don't particularly care about legal or illegal. She got teased for her terrible English, I got teased in general, so we naturally gravitated towards one another.

**Yes, there are very white Mexicans out there. I admit I was pretty surprised when I figured that out, and then really ashamed of being surprised.


  1. I am a caucasian 63 year old who has no birth certificate at all.

    I was born 25 December 1946, and there actually HAD been one, but something happened.

    We were stationed in Germany in the late 1940s, I was on my mother's passport, and then my sister was born. (She had a whole different set of problems, Germany not a country anymore and a few other details. Then again, she is one of the last of the actual "regimental children". She is actually a Daughter of the Regiment")

    They looked for, but could not find my birth certificate. Even though a certificate had been issued, there was no record wither in the hospital or in the state that I had been born.

    They had to write home to get people to attest that I had been born, and even used a newspaper clipping. Actually, the Dec 25 birthday came in handy as it made the event easy to recall.

    I had an dependents military ID until I joined the army (used the passport as proof of birth) and got by with military ID until about fifteen years ago. That's when all of a sudden one needed a driver's licence or State ID. I don't drive, so no driver's licence. No birth certificate, so no state ID. They just babble that "It has to be on record in Harrisburg..." and then it all goes into that Peanuts adult voice thing.

    So, how WOULD the average citizen prove, on the spot, his citizenship?

    When I was a kid things were pretty chickenshit, but all the things we were told "set us apart" are long gone. Now we are expected snitch each other off if you "suspect" that someone might not be a citizen. Whatever THAT is anymore.

    Hispanic guys I was stationed with told me that in the 1920s people used to come and go across the border pretty much without any fear that the "migra" would be on them if they were gainfully employed.

    When did that change, and why?

  2. I read the article you linked twice, it says the bill allows cops to hassle anyone on the spot basically for being brown (which I absolutely think sucks), but I don't see where you get that any citizen of AZ can do so. Please explain.

  3. I've listened to the new on this over the last few days, and it confirms Big A's comment: law enforcement will have this ability, but not the average citizen.

    In reality, the police already have the ability to stop and temporarily detain you if they suspect you of breaking the law. What's new, if I understand this correctly, is that they will now be allowed to require you to prove legal residency.

    Although it's a tough issue, I tend to side with Arizona on this one. The cops can already harass you legally, and when they do so while you're driving a car, they can require that you prove you're able to drive it legally (even if they suspect you of something unrelated to the operation of the vehicle).

    Forcing people to prove legal residency is similar. It makes me uncomfortable, but really, illegal immigration is a huge problem and we don't have the political / social will to address it. This law, IMHO, is a practical step in the right direction.

  4. I am an elderly, pear-shaped white guy, and as I said, I CANNOT prove residency at all. I have nothing but a check book with even my address on it. Luckily, the library accepted that (although here, they actually shouldn't have)as proof of residence, but no one else will. Only some kind of state ID is acceptable. My retired military ID and VA card are not acceptable to "authority".

    So, what's next? Brown people or people with funny accents today, but what about tomorrow?

    Cop is having a day that wants a reafirmation of his persona, stops Joe Schmoe. "Papers! Papers"! A looking up and down, the delivery of "The Cop Face", and if you talk out of turn or speak at all, you just might find out how similar the words "sir", civilian", "citizen", and "please" can sound like: "turd", "asshole", "nigger", and "if you don't I'll make you sorry you ever drew breath".

    What with the PATRIOT (?) act and it's wide interpretation, you get to prove to authority that you're legit! The onus is on YOU!

    And, what with the new security state, and "authority" starting to take notice of all sorts of hitherto invisible folks...looking at them with an increasingly narrowing eye, even "red-necks" like me, (maybe with more reason, from their viewpoint)maybe, for the sake of security they should err on the side of caution.

    And so they take you to some oubliette until you can "prove" that you are who you say. You can't? Not their problem... just doing their job.

    The Nurnberg trials were full of such statements.

  5. Just so you know, now that Rethuglican Gov. Brewer has passed the law, I’ve suggested your post in tomorrow’s Daily Blend.


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