Friday, April 23, 2010

Papers, please

A bill that would stiffen immigration laws in Arizona is now on Governor Brewers desk.  She has until Saturday at midnight to veto or sign it into law.  If she does nothing, the bill will also become law.  She has yet to reveal what she will do.

This bill is scary.  Having lived in Spain shortly after the Franco regime ended but during a coup attempt by the national police force, I was stopped twice for no reason, and was demanded my "papers." I was interrogated for 30 minutes one time, about 45 the next.  It was an awful experience, not helped by the fact that I had seen Midnight Express the night before my first detention.

It's very possible that people living in Arizona will now have to produce their papers on demand.  The immigration bill would, among other provisions, require police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.  It also would make it a crime to fail to "complete or carry an alien registration document."

Guess who's going to be  detained and questioned.  Not John McCain, that's for sure.  In his latest embarrassing dance to appease the right wing, he is supporting the bill.  During the election in 2008, he was a much kinder, gentler politician, pushing for immigration reform with at least a modicum of compassion.

I'll paraphrase Molly Ivans' famous words about the speeches at the 1992 Republican Convention.  This bill probably sounded better in the original German.

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