No, we are not confronted by actors with heavy German accents demanding our papers. We are instead confronted routinely by people of all stripes asking to see our driver's license. When we board an airplane, we are asked to produce a government-issued photo ID, usually a driver's license. When we make some credit- or debit-card purchases in department stores, we are asked to produce a driver's license. When we enter many office buildings, both private and government, security guards often ask us to produce a driver's license. When we go to doctors' offices and hospitals, we are asked to produce a driver's license. When we check into hotels, we are asked to produce a driver's license. When we purchase some over-the-counter drugs, we are asked to produce a driver's license. If we go to a bar or nightclub, anyone who looks at all young is asked to produce a driver's license. And needless to say, if we have any encounter with police or other authorities, we are asked to produce a driver's license.
A reader writes:
It's already federal law that all legal immigrants must carry papers and produce them upon demand, no? The new law may be ridiculous, but if this is the provision that makes you think Arizona has become a police state, then the entire nation has been a federal police state since at least June 27, 1952, when the federal law was passed.
And, speaking of which, do you have your papers on you, dear sir?
Not always. I try to keep them at home so I don't lose them. But, yes, whenever I go into the mini police-states with shopping malls we now call airports, I clutch my papers close. And I've taken the long legal route. Perhaps this helps me see things more from the immigrants' point of view.
I'm not defending entering this country illegally. But I do think that making an entire sub-population afraid of all cops is unfair to the population and to the cops. It's corrupting of a free society. And I think the "reasonable suspicion" clause is reminiscent of Jim Crow: Arizonans are demanding that their police officers deem every Hispanic guilty until proven innocent. I think this should end any faint chance the GOP ever had of winning back Latino voters. And rightly so.
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