Two young males pulled away in a Honda from their job at a restaurant and began making their way home. Soon after they left the parking lot, a police car began following them. The police car followed them for over a mile to where the driver dropped his passenger off in a Hispanic neighborhood. The police car stayed close behind, even waiting on the back bumper as the passenger went in his house, nervously looking back at the driver with the silent and dark police cruiser behind him. He closed and locked the door as the driver slowly went about his way, turning towards his home.
Less than a minute later, the blue lights began flashing, the Honda pulled over, and the driver, a new resident of the county, was approached by the officer. The officer told the driver, “I see you’re not from around here,” and asked for his papers. Unfortunately, the driver did not have them. He was caught. He was an undocumented resident who had been living in the county for almost two years, and the law had finally caught up with him. Now he was stuck with a court summons.
Now this is a true story, and it does have a great deal of relevance to the immigration law, but not in the way you’re probably thinking. The driver of the Honda was me in January of 2006, I believe. I had just left my job waiting tables at Ruby Tuesday’s taking a friend home. The blue Honda is mine, and the county (county, not country. Did you miss that?) in which I was an undocumented resident was Loudon County in Northern Virginia. The papers I did not have were my driver’s license, an up-to-date registration, and an unexpired inspection sticker. Despite the fact that I had lived in NOVA for a year and a half and even rented out a townhouse with four other friends, I still had not changed my residency. I was undocumented. The reason the police officer noticed I wasn’t from around there is that “Louisiana” is plastered on my license plate. The court summons I was given was a ticket, that had a court date on it which I was required to make if I did not show my driver’s license to the court in a timely manner. Oh, yeah; I’m white.
Welcome to your police state.
That is not police harassment. That’s just the way things are. Everyone is subject to it, and you might as well get used to it. Most people are used to it. That’s why they carry their papers with them and keep them up to date. This business of screaming racism and nazism because a police officer can ask for papers that non-citizens are required to carry at all times (see page 8) is absolutely nuts. It is nuts. It’s bonkers. It’s silly.
Many are claiming that this law is discriminatory because it will mainly affect Hispanics. Well, yes, but that’s because of geography, not because of a discriminatory law. If this same law were passed in Minnesota, it would mainly affect French Canadians. This law requires the “reasonable suspicion” of the police officer to inquire about immigration status, and since superior U.S. law (which this law reiterates) prohibits race or national origin from being sufficient criteria for reasonable suspicion, this pulled over for being Hispanic thing is ridiculous.
Jim Cafferty had quite a word for Obama on this whole reaction, and I wholeheartedly agree. I would also like to add that if people keep bringing up the reasonable nature of this bill, the hysteria will die down. Distortions can bring quick reactions, but in the end, only the truth sticks.
The truth is there is nothing racist, discriminatory, unreasonable, or wrong about this law. I’m sure America will see that. I just hope our political class sees it, too.
-J. Caleb Jones
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