Arizona to ID ‘Immigrants’? : Cranking up the Fear

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Demonizing Immigrants:
Arizona cranking up the fear

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / April 16, 2010

When people get scared, they become much more willing to give up their rights for a perceived safer world, and it looks like that is what’s happening in Arizona. The right-wingers in the Republican Party have been demonizing immigrants for several years now — especially those with a darker skin color — and Arizonans seem to be buying the racism the party is selling them.

The Arizona House of Representatives has just passed a bill, supposedly to fight illegal immigration. The bill is expected to also be passed by the senate and signed by the governor. The bill would forbid any city to adopt a “sanctuary” policy that would restrict police and social service workers from enforcing immigration laws. It would also expose drivers to sanctions if they knowingly transport an illegal alien — even a family member.

But perhaps the most troubling aspect of the new law is the power it gives police to stop anyone and demand to see paperwork showing they are in the United States legally. I remember during the days when the Soviet Union was in existence, one of the differences between that country and America was the requirement to carry identity papers which could be demanded by police at any time.

The only identification that a citizen of the United States has been required to carry is a driver’s license, and then only when driving. It has always been a mark of our freedom that we are not required to carry identification. It seems strange to me that the party that claims to be upholding our freedoms and our Constitution — the Republicans — would be the party to take away some of that freedom . I guess they can’t be both the party of freedom and the party of fear at the same time, and they’ve chosen fear.

Of course, this law will almost force the police to engage in racial profiling (unless they plan to stop every citizen and demand to see their papers). No, I expect this will only happen to Hispanics — many of them American citizens. This has to be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in that it creates a law aimed at only one class or race of people. It is simply wrong for Hispanics to be singled out to be harassed in this manner.

I think the law is also unconstitutional in a different way. Just a few years ago, an African-American man liked to take walks through a high-class suburb of San Francisco. He was repeatedly stopped and arrested by the suburban police because he did not carry any identification, although he always told them his true name and address and cooperated with them. He just believed that in America a man had the right to walk on public property anywhere without carrying identity papers.

He finally became angry with the continued harassment and sued the suburb. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and the court found the suburban community’s police had violated the man’s rights. They found that there was no requirement for an American to carry identity papers, and since the man cooperated and gave them his name and address, he should not have been arrested.

This Arizona bill is trying to do the same thing the suburban police had tried to do — require American citizens to carry identity papers. It is wrong and should be quickly nullified by the courts.

I have nothing against the requirement to carry a driver’s license when driving, but I have no desire to live in a state or country where I have to carry identity papers anytime I go out in public. That is just like an old-style East European police state, and cannot be tolerated in a truly free country.

It all boils down to one question. Do we want to live in a free country, or are we so fearful that we are willing to give up more of our freedoms? Personally, I choose to live in a free country.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

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12 Responses to Arizona to ID ‘Immigrants’? : Cranking up the Fear

  1. I’m not Hispanic, but I’m Cherokee enough to pass for Mexican, if that doesn’t make sense it will after a moment or two of thought.
    Something the Five Nations including Tsalagi, (Cherokee) had separating them from other nations in the Pre-Columbian Southeast what-is-now-the-U.S. was technologies from the Mayan empire, as in Southern Mexico and Central America. Made us stone-age rich because of a trading system involving boats, obsidian blades (sharper than you can get with any grade of steel) and actual metallurgy. And farming techniques.

    What all that has to do with Immigration and Identity is that I “look mex”. I used to go out in the desert walking, sometimes at night. (In El Paso and Hudspeth Counties, Texas) and on a few occasions ran afoul of La Migra because I “looked mex”. Which they denied was in any racist, because punishing people for not “looking” white isn’t somehow the same as punishing them for not “being” white.

    Arguing the point with a Racist gets no results. On one occasion I was waiting for my boss to show up so I could go to work that day. It was 5 am or so an fairly near the border. So What? I’m as American as you can possibly get, even born in Kansas, less than a hundred fifty miles from the Geographic Center of the U.S. At the time I didn’t even speak Spanish, kind of blew through it in elementary school. (I speak it now)
    There were a couple of guys about 30 yards down the street, probably undocumented, I didn’t then and still don’t care.

    It was early early spring of 1986. La Migra had just recently shot a man in Arizona, climbing a chain link fence at the border, they shot him upward into his belly button. Then claimed he was threatening them with a rock. Oh, Sure. ANYBODY can climb a chain link fence carrying a rock big enough to threaten them. Just ask them, they’ll tell you. Actually climbing a chain link fence is impossible without the full use of both hands, but the charges against the Real Man stuck, in AZ courts. The Lying La Migra agents who were probably just pissed off because he was getting back across the border were lauded as heroes instead of the cowards they really are.

    There was also a little bit of Hit Squad action going on in El Paso. Spillover from the Nicaraguan “contra” terrorists.

    So I’m standing on the corner minding my own damn business, waiting to go to work, and this black unmarked van does a U-turn right in front of me and a squad of black-uniformed Paramilitary style thugs spill out screaming at me in Spanish. “Donde Nacio? Donde Nacio?” I thought they were looking for somebody named Nacho. (Either Nacido, or Ignacio, both fairly common Spanish names) and waving automatic weapons in my face. I mustered enough of my grade-school Spanish to say Por Favor, senores, no hablo Espanol, por favor habla Ingles?

    Turns out the Donde Nacio bit meant “where were you born?”

    Then they once again made the Racist Mistake of blaming ME for their racist fears because I “look Mex”.

    Not that they would ever admit that it’s racism. But how else would you put it, if they say you need to “look more white”?

    I’ll be selling buttons for Earth Day with a picture of my hand with upraised one-finger salute and the words “Hey, Minuteman, here’s MY I.D.”

  2. Bob Sam says:

    Excellent article and, Jonah, wonderfully pertinent comment. Having spent a good deal of time in the Tri-State region (Texas, Chihuahua & New Mexico) I am quite familiar with the black van & paramilitary force you describe. The region also is crawling with DEA Cowboys, equally paranoid and possessing equally hair-triggered impulse control as La Migra. I once observed a DEA agent drinking at a bar who called in a local police raid on the restaurant because he had seen a couple of off-duty cooks rolling some tobacco cigarettes. Believing it to be mota, he had the parking lot filled with cops and the two cooks face down on the asphalt, cuffed with boots on their necks while the subsequent search turned up nothing more than a pouch of Top tobacco.
    As a scraggly long-hair in the late ’60s and early ’70s, I spent a lot of time up against the wall or kissing the trunk lid of a Squad Car — for the crime of being not square enough in appearance.
    Folks are pretty much pants-wetting scared these days, after decades of GOP fear-mongering — currently escalating at an exponential rate. But I have to figure that a large number of Americans are of a paranoid mindset to begin with, if for no other reason than most people tend to be afraid that others will do unto them what they would do to others…if they got the chance. It is just a localized version of the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Strike.
    It makes one wonder what percentage of American Citizens will have to be relocated to Internment Camps (maybe they will come up with a friendlier name for the camps like the South Africans did in calling them Townships — a lot warmer and cuddlier than Internment, don’t ya think?)in order for the Real Americans to be satisfied that they have successfully taken back “their” Country.

  3. jefffarias says:

    Many in Arizona are pushing back against this insanity.

    I spoke with the Exec Director of the ACLU-AZ on my broadcast here

    There’s Lot’s of great articles here and a YouTube of atty David Seldon explaining how this bill creates “Welfare for Anti- Immigrant Atty’s”

    Not all of AZ is retrograde racist.

  4. Its racist now to demand that people who live and work in the US (including AZ for those who are geographically challenged) enter it lawfully?

    I think the real racists are the author and readers here, that attack anyone who values and understands the distinction between immigrant and illegal immigrant.

  5. DHS- Suspend your racist beliefs long enough to answer the following question, “Do you think American citizens should be forced to carry identity papers or go to jail?”

  6. 1) Ted your confusing state and federal issues. 2) Nothing in the bill compels US citizens to carry identity papers. Have you read the bill? SB1070 is only 17 pages. Please post the language in the bill that requires US citizens to carry identity papers.

    If federal officials controlled our borders, and thereby effectively enforced federal immigration policies, states resources would not be required to deal with problems created by illegal immigration. States like AZ are affected by Washington’s failure much more than other states.

    We cant seem to get the federal government to control US borders, but they can expend Billions (regardless of party) annually to control borders in the Koreas, Afghistan and Iraq.

    When the federal government fails at its responsibilities, State Governments, which exist to serve their citizens, are forced to take action. I would like to see States exert their authority on a broader range of issues.

  7. If the police can demand to see paperwork proving you are in the country legally or jail you, then that in effect is a requirement to carry identity papers. I ask again, do you agree that American citizens (many of which are Hispanic) should be required to carry identity papers?
    By the way, I agree that we should NOT be guarding the borders of Korea, Iraq or Afghanistan. All those soldiers should be immediately brought back home.

  8. To answer your question, citizens need to be able to provide proof of their identity, whenever a law enforcement officer has a reasonable need to establish who you are. Identity documents can accomplish that, as can other methods. If you choose not to carry identification, then you will need to prove your identity another way should a law enforcement official need to determine who you are.

    Ted your hysteria here is telling. We put guns on cops and ask them to exercise their reasonable judgment in investigating all kinds of situations. And in general they perform quite well. Now you assert that police will suddenly be unable to make reasonable choices when it comes to investigating illegal immigration. That’s illogical and I question your motivation for making that claim.

    When law enforcement abuses their power to detain or investigate, as they sometimes do, they can be brought to account so citizen rights can be protected. If they abuse their power to investigate illegal immigration crimes, then the same process will provide citizen protection. If that process needs to be strengthened, then that will occur.

    But simply ignoring illegal immigration because people like you are so quick to throw around charges of racism has to stop. I applaud the law in AZ and will be working with others to get a similar law passed in Texas.

  9. I thought the claims about HCR death panels was absurd. It required some twisted logic to arrive at that conclusion.

    I consider the wild claims about AZ cops stopping hispanics to check for identity papers to be at the same level of stupidity.

  10. I always thought conservatives bragged about defending the Constitution. Now they are willing to give up freedoms because they are afraid of “illegals”.

  11. Terry says:

    Thirty-four years ago I worked for the U.S. Government in South Texas. Then for eighteen more years in Arizona. I warned the pseudo-PooBahs at every level that the government's policies of printing pamplets in Spanish (for those Mexicans who had lived in the U.S. for forty years or more and refused to study English), and giving tacit approvel for rich farmers to hire cheap laborers in this

  12. Terry, your analysis and thoughts are frightenting.

    …their culture formed deep seated contempt for honesty, both in government and in their personal lives. "Thou shalt not steal" does not exist in their culture…,

    Thats a racist statement straight up. Its not an analysis of policy or law. Its simply smearing a whole a race of people as if they were not

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