25 April 2010

Uncivil Law

Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, has just signed into law a bill requiring residents to carry documentation proving they are in the country legally. If police find that there is "reasonable suspicion" that a person is an illegal immigrant, they can detain that person and demand proof of legal residency.

President Obama opposes the law, as do many people in Arizona and the rest of the US, who fear the law will be used to harass citizens and other legal residents. Brewer claims it won't be used in that way.

But how on earth does she imagine police are going to decide whether someone is worth stopping and asking for documents? What would provoke "reasonable suspicion"? Looking Hispanic? Speaking Spanish? Speaking English with a Spanish accent? Somehow, it's hard to imagine the police stopping an English-speaking Caucasian and demanding documents.

I'm tempted to go to Nogales and stand around speaking German, just to see what happens. Maybe I'll have my German birth certificate, but not my US passport, in my pocket.