Tag Archives: profiling

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.