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“Show me your papers…”

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I have been following with much interest the uproar that erupted with the passing of the Arizona law that tries to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.  Most of the objections, as far as I can tell, come from the fear that law enforcement personnel may ask an illegal immigrant for proof of his/her citizenship or immigration status.

We often are asked for identification during the course of our lives in America.  For example, if we are pulled over by the police while driving a car, we have to produce a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance.  In the case of proof of insurance, we actually have to have it in the car; it’s not good enough to say that you left it at home.  If you open a bank account, you are required to show identification.  When I go to my local polling place, the poll worker usually greets me with something like, “Hi John, how are you?  Could you show us your driver’s license?”  I get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that if they are checking people they know personally, they are checking everyone and voter fraud can’t happen.  And of course, there is flying.  You aren’t getting near an airplane without proper ID.

We all understand the safety reasons for drivers to have proper licensing.  We understand the financial responsibility laws regarding insurance, the money-laundering laws respecting bank accounts, the voter-fraud laws when we vote, and the homeland security laws for flying.  But we cannot even ask about someone’s citizenship or immigration status.  This situation is silly.

The Arizona law specifically forbids a police officer from asking for proof of immigration status based on race alone, and only when the officer has some other contact with the person, such as a traffic citation.  Yet the protesters against this law are complaining of racial profiling.  Why do they assume police officers are racist?  No doubt some are, but the vast majority are not racists, just as the vast majority of Americans are not racists.

All the Arizona illegal immigration law does is to make state crimes of things that are already federal crimes.  The difference is enforcement.  Arizona has every intention of enforcing their immigration law.  The federal government has absolutely no intention of enforcing theirs.

Legal immigrants are required by federal law to carry proof of their immigration status.  Legal citizens will likely have a driver’s license or some other form of ID, or could produce one easily.  Illegal immigrants will not have any ID, and will be detained. That is the idea.  It is not based on race, only on status.  If the police stop a blonde-haired guy named Bjorn from Sweden, and he can’t produce any proof of his status, he will be detained too.

I’m sure this law isn’t perfect, but it is an attempt to deal with a problem that the federal government has failed dismally to solve.  Our Founding Fathers considered the states “laboratories of democracy” where different ideas may be tried and the good ideas could be adopted by other states.  Let’s see how Arizona’s experiment turns out.

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Larry Bertolino

Larry Bertolino

Owner at myLocalPCpro
Larry Bertolino is a 31 year old, U.S Navy Veteran and currently sitting on the board of Directors for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Harrison County Rural Transit.
Larry Bertolino
Larry Bertolino

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Posted by on May 7, 2010, 10:35 am. Filed under Featured, John Lovejoy, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry