Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

June 27, 2012

Rv'ing and the New Immigration Laws

What do the new immigration laws in the west mean for those who wander about in a vehicle?  The Supreme Court just upheld the portion of the AZ law that requires the police to check for papers proving that a person is legally in the US.  They noted that police must not racially profile to determine this and they must have some reasonable suspicion that a person is possibly an illegal alien.  It seems like the two are pretty much inconsistent.  How do you suspect that someone is illegal if you don't racially profile?  If they have an accent?  Would a cop in AZ consider a heavy New England accent to be foreign?  I've heard some so thick I could barely understand them.  Same for some southern accents.  Even particular places in Maryland have very different accents.

So what happens to someone who was born in this country if asked for your papers?  In order to avoid charges of racial profiling, do they stop and ask everyone for their papers?  Do they just stop some random white people with clear US accents for their papers?  See, we're not racially profiling, we are an equal opportunity harasser.  This sure sounds like all those old movies of WWII when people were stopped and had to provide their papers to Fascist police who as often as not took you into custody for unclear reasons.  (Looking for bribes?)

There is no requirement for US citizens to have papers proving they are US citizens.  There never has been.  We don't even have a requirement for a national ID card.  Any such attempts have been soundly defeated in congress on the grounds that we are the land of the free and have no business controlling people like that.  So this runs smack dab into the new AZ law requiring you to show your papers, which you are not required to have, to prove you are in this country legally.  And the AZ police are now required to detain you if you don't have your papers!  Whether they want to or not, the law now forces them to detain you.  Until you can come up whatever these papers are.  That you are not required to carry in this country.

Does a driver's license qualify as "papers"?  Not all states make you prove you are a citizen or have legal status in the US to get a drivers license.  Many states consider a drivers license as required to operate a vehicle, not as some sort of citizenship ID.  I know that my state is one that refused to implement the attempts to have all states meet higher identification standards.  So do the AZ police accept out of state licenses?  Do they know which states require proof of citizenship?

The only paper I have that actually proves that I was born in the US of US parents is my birth certificate.  Everything else is essentially a trail of documentation that I am who I say I am.  I don't carry my birth certificate everywhere with me.  And that has no real ID to the current me.  A passport surely would suffice but mine is expired and I haven't gotten it updated yet.  I wouldn't normally carry that with me for travel in the US either.

It seems states like AZ are asking anyone who travels to stay away or we might decide to harass you. I find it a grievous insult to be taken into custody until I can come up with some papers to prove to their satisfaction that I am a US citizen.  The whole thing seems tailor made to give bad cops a free reign to harass anyone they want to.  License and registration, ma'am.  Ma'am, please step slowly out of the car.  We can't accept an out of state drivers license as proof of your legal status in this country.  May I see your papers please?  If you don't' have the correct papers, then I have to take you into custody.  You do not have proper papers.  Then a full body frisk, a ride in a police car, and time in a jail cell.

Papers we are not required to have in this country.  Papers that are not defined in the law.  What a nightmare.  It's hard to believe that the Supreme Court actually thought this is constitutional.  Are they really this dumb?  In Nazi Germany, maybe.  And that doesn't even touch on all the issues with non Germanic/Anglo heritage people and how they can unfairly be harassed with this law.


  1. Hard to believe how fast two middle-aged, pink women get waved through a checkpoint, even in a motorhome. Just you two? Any oranges? Have a good day, Ma'am. Nah, not profiled at all.

  2. The Ag checkpoints are not police. They are ag inspectors. If they ever think they need any police protection, they call the real police. It always seemed that the AZ ag checkpoints were more of a retaliation to CA much more stringent ag checkpoints than a serious endeavor. CA won't allow any AZ oranges in. Basically, all they care about is oranges. AZ climate is some protection to pest transmission but otherwise, there is no natural barrier. CA mountains provided a natural barrier but people transport the pests.

  3. Very thoughtful essay.

    "It seems states like AZ are asking anyone who travels to stay away or we might decide to harass you." Perhaps that is a second or third reason why RVers should minimize their stay in AZ in the winter.

    I'm still waiting to hear about getting your mail forwarded, say, every two months, and finding out that you got a $270 speeding ticket (or rolling stop ticket) from one of the surveillance cameras of the Tucson/Phoenix conurbation, except that you had 30 days to pay it. Now the $270 has become much more expensive, a court date is required (in June?), the infraction has become a misdemeanor, and your driving license has been suspended.

  4. Not all checkpoints are agricultural. Along the border they don't care so much about oranges.

    Are you having trouble with spam, still?

  5. The border would be different. No more spam since I put the prove your not a robot back on. Annoying, I know.

  6. As I understand it (and I have lived in Arizona for 14 year) the police have the right to ask for identification from people who are lawfully detained for committing a crime or a traffic offense. I have been asked for ID from police if I broke a traffic rule, like not stopping for a red light. That has been true for years, and in every state I have lived in. The fact of the matter is that the majority of illegals in Arizona are hispanic. Many speak no English. The police are trained on what to look for, and they do not racially profile. You would have to live here to understand what the leaky border has cost this state. If you are going to misinterpret the laws and immediately jump to the conclusion that Arizonans are racist, maybe you'd be best not to come here.

    1. That about sums it up. They're mostly Hispanic, but we don't racially profile. We don't want your kind here. I find it mildly amusing that this attitude is prevalent in a state so dependent on tourist dollars.

      Of course, if I'm driving, I have to show my license and registration - it is the deal in every state that allows me to drive. Lots of illegals don't drive. In any other state, I do not have to show papers if I am walking. The parts don't add up to the claimed whole. That's the point.


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