Proof of Citizenship

Well, I see that our embarrassing legislators have given committee approval to the “let’s target brown folks” bill–aka “immigration enforcement.”  Much like the widely criticized Arizona law after which it was modeled, the measure would allow police to stop people and demand proof that they are in the country legally if there is “probable cause” to question their immigration status. “Probable cause” includes failure to speak English, a provision that led a snarky friend of mine to suggest that people in southern Indiana should start carrying their birth certificates.

How would you prove that you are a citizen, or otherwise legally entitled to be in the United States, if you were stopped? Those of us with passports could start carrying them everywhere, I suppose. Or we could carry birth certificates. A driver’s license isn’t considered proof.

Since the sponsors of this bill insist it does not depend on profiling or skin color, we would all need to carry “official papers” of some sort in case we were stopped. And that is ironic, although I’m sure it is an irony that escapes our intrepid lawmakers.

When my oldest grandson was twelve or thirteen, my husband took him to New York’s Ellis Island. The museum of immigration had a wonderful interactive display, showcasing the history of those who came to America and the reasons they left their homelands. What made the deepest impression on our grandson was the number of people who left their original homes because they were required to have “papers” on them at all times, required to prove their right to walk the streets of the cities in which they lived. He found such a requirement incomprehensible.

I hope he has his papers. He tans easily.


  1. Hi Sheila – Thank you for voicing the concern and point of view of many immigrants living in the state of Indiana. I truly hate the way the Immigration debate has gone down the tubes, specially with the rhetoric of “what part of illegal don’t you understand….” Well, it is not a simple as people think it is. People think that is just as simple as going to the end of the line and apply for residency or citizenship…. If that was the case we wouldn’t have 11 or so millions of undocumented living in the USA.

    It’s with great sadness to witness how the Indiana Legislature is introducing a bill that mirrors the one in Arizona. I am Mexican and have been living in the US for 22 years (more than half of my life and I consider myself Mexican-American) and I’m afraid that I will be targeted under this “immigration” bill that Senator Delph introduced a month or so ago. It’s sad that I’m already starting to feel “intimidated” or “belittled” whenever I’m the only minority at a group and I wonder how people think of me… “Is she legal…?” This sense of doubt is a feeling that I have never experienced before in my life and is really sad because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. A lot of others started to feel this way ever since the bill got introduced but will not voice their concerns out of fear.

    I just hope Mitch Daniels stops or vetoes this bill before it becomes law, otherwise, they will loose residents to other states. Residents that currently contribute to the Indiana economy but will be lost due to non-sense political ideology.

  2. We are living through a very angry time; people are lashing out at a world that has changed beyond their ability to recognize it, and a lot of innocent people are collateral damage.

  3. As an American Indian I find this hilarious. This country had an immigration problem 500 years ago I’m still here and so are my people despite the boarding schools and consorted efforts to exterminate us. I am sure white people will make it through these times just as the indigenous people of this country have. We have been here for the many thousands of years before the Vikings landed here.

    That’s right you seen that correctly Columbus did not discover America in fact people were already living here. Secondly, if your criterion is white Europeans Columbus was not the first white person on these shores it was the Norsemen at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland at about 1000 AD. Nearly 500 years before the wayward Italian.

    People forget to easily or don’t read history books. “Papers, Please!” Who’s asking? Is it the Gestapo, the KGB, or any other secret arm of oppression you care to name. Apparently this is the “Land of the Free” but only if you look like you are white. I am a person of color, I have dark hair and dark skin. So do my children. Will my children be stopped too?

    Has any one taken a look at the military. The people who are defending our freedom with their lives and blood. The military is very diverse from what I have seen. People of all colors and many nationalities. I have friends from other countries who have joined the military to gain citizenship. They are not white Anglo-Saxon protestants. I would also like to mention that per capita a higher percentage of American Indians serve in the military than any other race.

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