I live in Arizona. I love this state with all my heart, with every fiber of my being. I literally get ill when I'm away from it for too long.
In case you might have somehow missed this, on Friday, Governor Jan Brewer -- a Republican who came to the appointment of Democrat Janet Napolitano to head the Department of Homeland Security -- signed into law SB1070, which has been duly dubbed the "Papers, Please" law by the liberal media, and something akin to "thank-god-them-foreigners-is-being-kicked-out" in the conservative media.
This bill requires the agents of the state to request evidence of citizenship from anyone that they have a "reasonable suspicion" of being here without cover of law and makes such an event a crime -- trespassing -- punishable by several years in jail and a large fine. It also makes waiting for day labor a crime, and also anyone who transports a person for day labor is now guilty of a crime.
The law, as written, does indeed include specific language that says that police cannot use racial profiling exclusively -- but it does not say that it cannot be used -- merely that it cannot be the sole reason for that reasonable suspicion.
So what else can be used? Let's take a look...
Your haircut, your clothing, your shoes, your accessories, your make up, your accent. Some of which were outlined by a State Senator from California, and featured on Rachel Maddow's show before the bill was signed into Law.
Your general appearance, your walk, your carriage, your personal grooming habits, if you are walking or running, where you are walking or running, the car you drive, your license plate, the condition of the car you drive, the color of the car you drive, the way you signal when you turn.
Your bumper stickers. Your political displays. The people you happen to have or not have in your car.
Do you carry a Gucci anything? Or perhaps a Versace? Maybe you don't like to iron your clothes.
Pick one of those things. Then add the fact that your skin shade might not be very pale. Maybe you had a really great tan, and you just died your hair black.
Any single one of those, when combined with racial profiling is legal under this law as it is written. All that's needed is a reasonable suspicion.
Then you have the next level of this law. The documentation thing. You are now stopped. You aren't doing anything important -- we'll say sitting on a wall near a Home Depot or Lowe's, waiting for a friend to come pick you up because your car broke down.
The officer who stops you asks for your papers. Turns out your license is from another state. It's old, doesn't look like the Arizona style licenses. Maybe you are looking a little too butch for a gal or too femme for a guy in this officer's opinion. An officer in a state that generally treats LGBT people pretty crappy outside of Phoenix and Tucson and the campus of NAU in Flagstaff.
It's that kind of thing.
You find yourself being escorted to the officer's car. Taken to jail. You have to wait while the officer then gets around to pulling you out of the holding cell and asking you questions, and then you have to wait until they get word back from Immigration Services on your citizenship. It's Friday.
Come sometime Tuesday afternoon, you are released and they say "Sorry about that."
Your car has been towed. You are standing outside an overcrowded jail that's even more crowded because of this law.
Phoenix Police have been instructed to ask everyone. That's to avoid the lawsuits on racial profiling. But it does nothing if you don't have the right documents.
Maybe you have documents, but the gender marker doesn't match. Maybe you are here on an employer's visa, and you left this important document at home because it cannot be lost or damaged.
Do you carry your birth certificate with you where ever you go? What about being born on a base overseas -- do you also carry your official citizenship papers that are issued with that? What? You were born before they started doing that?
Too bad. Off you go to jail until the feds sort this out. Feds who are working for an appointee who would have stamped veto on this law like three dozen times. Feds who are subject to executive branch oversight and a chief executive who really doesn't like this law. Who are literally not set up to conduct this sort of research and verification process, and won't be by the time the law goes into effect because they don't have funding to do that.
So you sit in a jail that cannot be expanded because there's no funding for that (in fact, funding for jails has been cut back this year), waiting on a check run through a system that does not exist and that is not funded either.
In short, you are screwed.
This is the reality of this law. "Papers, please," they will ask you, but if they don't, some "concerned citizen" who has completely different ideas from the officer about what's reasonable might report them.
You go to pick up your child from school, and it turns out there was a paperwork error and the teacher reported them as here illegally and they are sent off because they inherited your grandparent's dark hair and olive skin and went to school in the same clothes most kids wear these days but they were just a little annoying and maybe said something to another kid they heard on Dora the Explorer.
You might hear that this law is not about racial profiling. It can only be about such. Because there is no "American Look" to us.
The law does not establish what documents prove citizenship, either. The cop might not accept your birth certificate -- it was in your wallet, you sweat (it's Arizona, people, we sweat here), it's kinda runny.
This is fascism. IT has come to my home. Brought here by Republicans. Party line vote. If you check out the Rachel Maddow link earlier, you'll note she talks about the author of this law.
He sends out emails to his supporters that include lines that deny the Holocaust. The man is a fervent opponent of gay rights, who believes that we should be outlawed. He and Sheriff Joe Arpaio (in whose jails you will find yourself should be be caught in Phoenix) are close and good friends with the members of several of the local, homegrown hate groups. One's listed on the SPLC's list.
Including the ones who attacked me once, and things were very unpleasant and, no, I won't describe it.
This is what they want. We see it happening in Uganda and we say "damn them -- thank God it doesn't happen here," and we holler.
It is happening here. And, oddly enough, in part because of President Obama. Also in part because apparently the former governor decided to leave Arizona to the machinations of a majority in the legislature so strong and solid that Democrats can't even get decent bills introduced.
They have a birther bill coming as well -- requiring the secretary of state to collect proof of citizenship for all candidates appearing on ballots in the state of Arizona.
All candidates. Including one's for president. It also doesn't state what's acceptable.
The Latin@ community here is often saying don't boycott Arizona. And they have a valid point, but this is too risky.
If you had plans to come to Arizona, cancel them until this law is undone. There is a lot of fighting against it. It is a huge deal. It will be overturned.
It might take several months to do.
I say this, and the work I am most likely to find is work related to a service sector -- the areas hardest hit by such.
No Grand Canyon, no Petrified Forest, no trip to Nogales for awesome tequila.
The reservations can use your money, though. They aren't affected by this law, and they oppose it because they'll be hit with the same thing. There is a great deal of prejudice hear against Native peoples.
I am telling you boycott my home, the state I love. I am an Arizonan before I am an American. I have set foot in places here that in some cases no one can set foot in now.
And I am telling you to stay away.
Lest you find yourself reasonably suspicious.
For that Armani outfit you might be wearing.