Monday, April 26, 2010

Time for an opinion

It's been a while since I spoke up about something, but I've had a bit of time to digest Arizona's new Immigrant policy, and I find myself truly bothered by it.

Hard as it may seem for some to believe, I have been the victim of profiling. "Venka" is the name I have adopted for use here in the US because it is pronounceable by American English standards. What appears on my driver's license is different, and I do not choose to disclose it publicly for identity theft and security reasons, as is my right.

Back in the late '90's, I was visiting a friend in L.A. on a rainy, Friday night. I got turned around leaving her house, and missed my turn. As I was driving slowly, stopping to see the street signs, a squad car pulled up behind me with lights on. I pulled over and turned off the engine. Allow me to set the scene.......

I drove a Mitsubishi Longbed pickup truck - all black - with some "aesthetic enhancements".

I hate umbrellas, so I was wearing a baseball cap - hair in a pony tail. I was also wearing a leather jacket.

I was in a not-so-great neighborhood minutes from downtown L.A. - there may have been gangs or less-than-law-abiding citizens in the immediate area.

I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, driving the wrong type of vehicle, and not dressed like the OC goody two shoes that I was Monday-Friday at the office.

I was asked to get out of the vehicle with my hands up.

I did - and then called out to the officer asking what had I done wrong?

I was approached, and when he determined I was indeed a twenty-something female, he asked to see my ID. Again, as I was reaching for my ID, I asked him what was the problem. He said they were looking for a vehicle that matched mine, and I fit the description as far as the driver was wearing a baseball cap. I can't remember now which race he mentioned, but it wasn't white, and I wasn't male. I gave him my driver's license. He then asked to see my green card.

Did I mention that I was born in L.A.? Yes - I am not only a native Californian, but I was born in the City of Angels. And once I opened my mouth, all remaining doubt was banished. Shall we say "Valley" was my native dialect. Oh - my - God.

After lengthy debate - along with threats that I would be arrested due to my inability to prove I WAS A CITIZEN BY BIRTH - he realized that I was serious about filing complaints, going to his superiors, contacting the local news agencies. I was the organizing secretary for a local union, and one of our shops was the Herald Examiner. Hence the reason I drove the truck to LA. It fit in and no one looked twice at it when I was at the Herald, located across the street from the LA Mission.

I was given a warning - for what?!?! - and told that I really should carry something with me proving I was legal, other than my voter registration card. After all, that name didn't look American.

Yeah, back then I was still proud of the fact that I voted regularly. My Dad said that I should carry it in my wallet so I wouldn't forget when I got to the voting booth. He was very proud of the fact that we could vote together. Sorry - got off on a tangent.

Where were we? Ah, yes....

May I ask the multitude - what the hell is an American name?

Think on that a moment....

I'll wait......

I've been to Arizona. Overall, I like Arizona. I took a real liking to Tuscon, surprisingly, since I was there in August. But when you take Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Kaibab and Petrified National Forests, Arizona has remarkable beauty. It is also home to 21 tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache. I have visited these reservations and acquired a deep respect for their people and their rich heritage. I have longed to go back there, but now I am torn.

If I were to say, make a call to check on my Mom and resort to speaking Norwegian, will I have to produce my papers. Which papers? My birth certificate - a document that can be forged quite easily, as I understand it. My social security card? That would be easier to forge than a birth certificate. My passport? What if I had never had the means, or desire, to travel out of the country? What if I had been raised poor? What if I was uneducated and worked a low paying job? What need would I have had to get a passport that costs over $100 to acquire?

I just found out that there is a passport card. Ladies and Gentlemen - I do believe this is going to become our new "national ID card". Just wait for it. It's like a credit card - it fits in your wallet! Usable at border crossings!

For someone born within the borders of the United States, what documentation are they supposed to carry? What if someone like my mother, a legal resident alien, happened to be out running errands and had left her green card at home. After all, she's lived here since 1963 and no one has ever asked to see it accept when she is returning to the US from an overseas trip. It punishes legal resident aliens and those born of immigrant parents.

Yes, I want reform. Yes, I think illegal immigration is wrong and a crime. Yes, states have the right to enact laws to combat illegal immigration. This one goes too far and infringes on our liberty. If what happened to me back in the 80's actually happened to me now on a trip to Phoenix, since I wouldn't have "proof" with me, would I be thrown in prison for 6 months? For being a US Citizen and not carry papers? For keeping the name my Norwegian parents gave me instead of changing to a legally acceptable "American" name?

You want to see fascism at work? Divert your eyes from DC people. It is alive and well in Arizona.


Ceallach said...

This law bothers me too....frankly, states have no authority to regulate immigration under the constitution, and I can't wait for this to be tested in Supreme Court.

Also, where do we draw the line? How long before those darn immgrants have to wear the Mexican flag on their clothes like a badge? How long before we round them up and put them in camps in the Arizona desert? How long before we start to disappear them because it's easier than dealing with the reality of having poor neighbors that need help, and the reality of desperate people.

Reality bites. But then so does this law.

Ceallach said...

Sooooo, Mexico has a travel advisory out on seems that the political climate is not conducive to Mexican nationals.

I keed you not.

Anonymous said...

I find AZ a beautiful place and have met some very nice people there. I don't understand why people think this law will solve their state's problems. One thing that may contribute to this type of law is that many people in AZ are Snowbirds. They probably vote in their home state and consider AZ their vacation home and choose not to be involved in state politics.