Arizona SB 1070 : Determining Immigration Status by Police
What Does An American Look Like?
Ay, Caramba ! Do you have your papers? papers? Yes, proof that you belong in America? Do you mean, on me? Of course, I need to see proof. Huh, here is my drivers license. Sorry, that is not proof you belong legally in America. Are you kidding? I just graduated from Grande Casa High School, of course I am American. I am third generation Italian, not Mexican. This frickin' happens all the time to me. I was born in Tempe. I don't carry my passport with me because I don't have one. I have never left the country. Is that a crime? Officer, what did I do? We had a complaint about a man loitering around this business area. I still need some proof you are an American. This is frickin crazy!!!!
Arizona police probably have this conversation all the time, every day. They do so because of the Arizona state law SB 1070 that makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant or for them to work in the state. It empowers the police to arrest anyone suspected of committing a crime that would merit deportation. But, it is section 2B that is controversial and recently upheld by the US Supreme Court that allows the police to determine immigration status of a person under reasonable suspicion. This allows them to ask for papers.
In Europe, this kind of action is totally normal, expected. But, America is comprises of 50 states, not countries that require a person to carry their papers. The only papers that prove you are a true American is your passport. But, unless you have left the country, you probably do not have one. It is not against the law not to have a passport. The next thing, at least for immigrants, would be citizenship papers. But what about those not of Hispanic background, that look like any white American. Myself, for example. I could not prove my citizenship if I was driving in AZ and got pulled over for a traffic issue. I never carry a passport, in fact, until 12 years ago, my passport was woefully outdated when I was a kid. Since a drivers license is not accepted, despite it is obvious I am American, I would not be able to prove it at the scene. So, by law, the police would detain me.
But, not all Americans are white, they are black, red, brown and shades in between. They have heavy or light accents in their English, they are not all proficient at it, they come from 2nd or 3rd generations who were born here, went to school here, act like Americans, work here or maybe not, and most do not carry a passport or their birth certificate with them at all times. They may not even have it.
AZ police have a big problem. What a headache! It gets worse. if the person is unable to prove his status as a citizen or visa\permanent residency,by law, the police must detain them and be transferred to federal immigration ICE. So, if I was unable to show proof, I would be sent to ICE! Ay, Caramba!!
States, by themselves, cannot determine if someone is a citizen or not, that is only a Federal obligation. Eventually, it would be obvious, it would be found I was a US citizen, but talk about the waste of time until it gets to that point.
Now, because of this AZ law, other states are passing similar ones. This may lead to a National ID card, one required for legal residents, much like a license. How else would I be able to proof my status barring my passport or birth certificate ?