My parents are in Arizona. Being Canadians, they have no passport stamp, indeed, they have no visa, no evidence whatsoever that they are not in the country illegally. But they are white. So they don't have to worry.
Today Arizona passed a law (SB 1070) making it legal and the duty of the police to stop and require proof of citizenship or legal status: that the person is NOT an illegal immigrant. Or…..one presumes they are detained. So if a person goes to buy milk and does not have their green card on them, and the police FEEL they might be illegal, they can and will be detained. And because the law has been made to stop Hispanic illegal immigration, now the abuse recorded is not only DWB crime (Driving while black) which causes you to be pulled over and abused but AWH (Alive while Hispanic).
Because the United States grew apart from the British Empire and did not WANT to be under a government which required papers be shown to officers, or for example the ability to make you house soldiers (that’s in the constitution). So it is not a crime, nor is it a requirement for any US citizen (including myself) to carry proof of citizenship. I am a US citizen, period. I am also a Canadian Citizen (and no requirement to carry proof when I go out wheeling), nor was there a requirement when I lived in the UK.
See old INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) gave out green cards and visas, and my father worked on immigration and discrimination law and many, many clients. And the best advise was, stand still and shut up. Because unless there is CAUSE to believe the person is an illegal immigrant, there is no law which requires proof. However, the states along the border of Mexico bent this, having local sheriffs and others target places where Hispanics could be detained and provoked into ‘probable cause’. I was in one of those raids on a bus, out of New Orleans, where some ‘good ole boys’ came in and started yelling, “Prove you are an American!” to every person on the bus. It was for show, I was on the bus, I had no proof I was American (I wasn't at that time) BUT I was white. Like every OTHER white person and person who did not move, the sheriff just yelled the question and moved on past me. It was a show. Across from me were three Hispanic men. The Sheriff was near and I wanted desperately to tell them, as I could see the panic rise, for them to ‘Sit still and say nothing.’ However, I KNEW if I did that, I would be detained in a cell that night, because I 'ruined the fun'. Because the same way it might be illegal to arrest a bus driver on the Canadian Border who hadn’t actually entered the US, but was handcuffed and put in a cell for...delaying from entering to put out a cigarette (another joy of an officer out of control - I have seen Canadian ones too, and written about them), seen as a slight to him. This Sherriff was the same type: high on testosterone and a belief in themselves over the law.
One of the hispanic men jumped up and ran for the toilets, one jumped up and was caught. “Yaaaaaahoooooo!” Called out the sherriff who was next to me to his deputies, “Boys we caught us a RUNNER!” and they went outside to bang on the toilet side of the bus and then open it and drag the man out. The terror on the face of the man was FUN for them. This was the GOOD part of the job. Was the stopping of the bus legal. No. There was no ‘probable cause’ that this bus was a smuggle vehicle. Or paperwork to show the driver was paid for illegal smuggling, or anything except the knowledge that illegal immigrants have little money, and take the bus and who is going to have an immigration lawyer on mile 76 of Mississippi highway out of New Orleans? So “Yaaaaaaahooooo!” And a shame I carry for being too much a coward to stand up to a bully. Yeah, I was the face in the crowd THAT time.
Problem is INS, after 9/11 got folded into Homeland Security and renamed BCIS (Bureau of Immigration Services), but under Homeland Security all sorts of odd things could get passed. For example the requirement to carry the green card, which before had not been enforced was enforced IF ASKED BY A BCIS agent. What Arizona has done by signing Senate Bill 1070 which, by fiat decision takes the enforcement of the requirement for green card presentation away from Federal Agents (Homeland security agents) and has made it a STATE crime which requires local police to check of ANYONE. Well not ANYONE, but anyone they believe is residing illegally….by sight. Arizona Governor stated, “Racial Profiling is ILLEGAL, it will not be tolerated in AMERICA, and will not be tolerated in Arizona.”
Um, yeah, except that racial profiling isn’t ‘illegal’ but only prohibited in ‘guidelines’ in certain circumstances by federal agents EXCEPT for a blanket exception for “national security” and “border integrity” cases. Yes, that is illegal immigration, the same agents that Governor Brewer just slapped in the face with SB 1070 can and DO use racial profiling. Though President Bush promised to stop racial profiling, after using it for several years as an ‘effective weapon against terrorism’ for airports, borders and other locations, no federal legislation has passed making it illegal. Indeed 46 states do NOT ban racial profiling based on religious appearance (Muslims), and 35 states do not ban racial profiling of pedestrians. So, walk to the store in Arizona for milk and get in jail…..if you aren’t white. A 2007 report found that already 32 million people in the US had been impacted by racial profiling.
Now I live on the border and cross frequently. There is always profiling. If you are male with facial hair and in your 20’s – expect to wait, and if you have a guitar or a surfboard expect to be searched and wait a LONG time. Because Victoria has been used so often as a dumping ground for people who can live ‘free’ or without a home that it doesn’t want more coming up from the US to live on the streets. However, Cheryl can enter freely, as can any American or green card or Visa holder with simply a driver’s license. It is EASY to get into Canada from the US. Cheryl, a federal employee, however cannot get BACK into the US without a Passport. That’s right, US citizens need a Passport, not to go into a foreign country, but to get back into their own. And I suspect that Mexico has the same policy. What it means is that the US is now the largest ‘gated community’ – an ‘us only’ policy which means if you can’t afford a passport, you are not the type of person that the Government wants visiting Canada. If you can’t PROVE you are ‘one of us’, then you can’t get back IN to your own country. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd?
Canadians entering the USA, as I do regularly, have absolutely no visa, nothing but, “Where are you headed” and “Thank you.” – and away we go. So we have no proof whatsover that we are not coming into the USA to stay and steal your jobs, induce a crime wave and overburden your health care. Indeed, tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Brits, Irish, Aussies, Kiwis and Europeans come to work restaurant jobs, to bar tend to work illegally. When I was in the UK, several of the people I worked with had gone to the US, stayed past their visa, worked, since, ‘why not?’ And of course Canadians are one of the top 10 countries of immigrants to the US. Also, with the 'snowbirds' (older Canadians moving from north to south during the winter) one of the largest group which CANNOT show they are in the country legally are senior citizen Canadians (and we know how much THEY jaywalk, and do odd jobs!). Will the Arizona police start targeting those with Canadian accents and a knowledge of the number of Gold Medals Canada won in the Olympics? Or will the police in Arizona use on the streets of Arizona the EXACT same racial profiling that the federal agents maintaining the border of Arizona are using?
Two days before the bill was signed, Governor Brewer asked for Federal Troops to come to the state for security (odd since she is authorizing local troops). Of SB 1070, it is item five which is well, inane, “Allows a law enforcement officer, without a warrant, to arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the U.S.” – the classic official ones are ‘loitering’ or ‘jaywalking’ or ‘related to gang activity’ (since federal law means that no proof is required at all). That's what was used in the South in the 1920's-1960's for a police haul-away.
What that means is now it is down to the police, and the leaders of the police, to visually isolate and determine people who they believe they can remove from the USA (I am guessing they are not looking for Treason but Illegal Immigration). Since the Governor wants the National Guard to stand with rifles at the border of Mexico to ‘defend’ Arizona against ‘trespassing’, it is clear that Hispanics are the primary target. Unless, they REALLY hate the Canadians who visit Mexico while in Arizona and bring back onyx chess sets? So maybe my parents will be shot by the National Guard?
The thing is, for a country which fought for INDIVIDUAL freedom, the individual right, which still pertain, where a person can be free to move about the country, a citizen does not need to produce ‘papers’ in order to simply walk down the street. That is the LAW. But perhaps, soon, not the reality.
Because how does an officer know the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’? Simple. It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty. The definition in the law of ‘Tresspass’ is “a person is guilty of trespassing if the person is:
a) present on any public or private land in the state and
b) is not carrying his or her alien registration card or has willfully failed to register.”
That means if a person is ALIVE and does not float in the air (the feet touch the ground which will be either public or private land), they can be suspected of ‘tresspass’ and required to present alien registration card. That includes if the person is a US citizen and is not federally required to CARRY proof of citizenship. Yupper, get the wrong officer and you, my US citizen, are going to the pokey….because you can’t prove you aren’t tresspassing as an illegal. Literally guilty until proven innocent. The entire State of Arizona declared itself either a war zone or a detention/concentration camp, where police look over an entire State where the population is guilty until they prove that they are innocent, if they can (and for example, my parents CAN’T!). But I am guessing that since my parents are white, they won’t be stopped. What do you think? I am guessing that US citizen who are white won't be stopped? What do you think. Why not watch the protests and see the racial make-up of the thousands opposing the signing and the dozens (hundreds) approving the signing.
Those very people holding USA flag and cheering for SB 1070, though white, could LEGALLY be stopped on a midnight beer run and yes, detained until they provide proof that they are American Citizens (how many in that crowd do you think don't have Passports? Or might not carry Birth Certificates with them?). Ahh, but I think going into the house of the Head of Police, the Governor and others and throwing them in jail, all LEGALLY, might not be what was intended for SB 1070. And indeed, might lose you your job....for doing the law (hey, you felt in your gut that they were committing and act which might get them deported, and they were on public or private property). If you think this is extreme, already police go into houses of various ethnicities in the early morning, no, not for terrorism, but for immigration. And no, not whites.
But since the ‘enemy is everywhere’, what is the next State going to do? Perhaps a state law requiring tattoos, or chips inserted in all residents? All to know the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’. You think I jest? Section 12 of bill SB 1070 already allows to cover costs for lawsuits or actions against officers due to their actions in this manner. It means they can SCREW UP and they don't have to pay the cost.
Why oh why Arizona do you want to be in a concentration camp so much? What do you fear SO much? The argument is, “It will make everything better.” Better health care, safer communities, better schools, crushing this one minority (you know, the old 'stab in the back' idea about a group) will make it a better place for everyone. – ahhhhhhhh, will the trains run on time?
7 hours ago