Much fuss is being kicked up about a new piece of legislation in Arizona, which makes it a legal requirement to carry ID with you wherever you go; and expands the rights of police officers to demand the paperwork of anybody they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.
This has outraged liberals across America, who claim that police demands to 'present your papers' will be akin to living in a police state, and that the law will be tantamount to racial profiling.
I, on the other hand, completely disagree.
Yes, it's true that 99.9% of people suspected of being illegal immigrants will be of Hispanic origin. That's not racial profiling, though - that's just the sad fact that 99.9% of illegal immigrants living in Arizona happen to be Hispanic (it does border Mexico, after all.)
If similar laws existed elsewhere in the country, like New York City, then it would be a different story. New York's teeming with illegals of all sorts of different hues - I know for a fact that many young Irish kids spend a couple of years working illegally in Irish pubs just for the craic of it. Visitors from Tel Aviv, or the Caribbean, are equally common.
And if it wouldn't be racial profiling here in New York, why is it considered so in Arizona? It strikes me that the law itself isn't inherently racist, just the demographics of Arizona.
The second criticism is one of civil rights - America is a 'free country' and many liberals argue that the notion of demanding that people carry ID cards is tantamount to fascism. Saturday Night Live even joked that every time an authority figure demands that somebody 'show their papers,' Adolf Hitler's family receive a royalty check.
However, I disagree with that notion on two grounds: Firstly, it already is law to carry ID if you're not an America citizen. I know this for a fact, since I'm required by federal law to carry my 'green card' everywhere I go (it even says so on the card.) This change in the law doesn't really make any difference to legal aliens in Arizona; just the illegal ones.
Secondly, it's already law in many parts of Europe to carry ID anywhere you go and as much as we might like to claim so, the EU isn't yet a fascist state. In a country with 300 million residents, targeted by both Muslim extremists and a tidal wave of illegal immigrants, the idea of a American ID card isn't offensive; it's inevitable.
In fact, a biometric ID card is one of the headline facets of Obama's touted immigration reform bill.
But my biggest problem with people wailing about this immigration bill in Arizona being racist is that it's not. It's dealing with a very specific problem that just happens to originate within a specific racial demographic.
I'm sorry that only Hispanic people will be affected by this bill; but it's been introduced to deal with an issue caused almost exclusively by Hispanics.
Illegal immigration isn't just the bugbear of rednecks and tea partiers - it's an enormous, legitimate problem and it needs to be dealt with. I'm not one of these lunatics crying 'send 'em all back', but I am a concerned resident of the United States forced to deal with the aftermath of rampant illegal immigration every single day.
Just what do I mean by that?
Here in New Jersey, illegal immigrants kill dozens on the roads every year, as they drive in uninsured, uninspected vehicles that simply aren't safe. Our neighbor, who was an illegal alien, got arrested and deported twice for driving drunk - yet was back in his apartment three months later both times, and cruising around in his rickety old minivan just hours later (often drunk.)
Other seemingly minor crimes - like fencing stolen goods, selling pirate DVDs and producing knocked-off merchandise - are often the only source of revenue illegal immigrants have access to; but that doesn't make it right.
Yes, I do blame these illegal aliens for breaking the law. There's no reason to. Take my drink-driving neighbor - who had no insurance. While in most states it's impossible to get a driver's license without legal immigration status, it's perfectly possible to get valid motor insurance (I drove legally insured on my British license for about three months after moving here.)
The simple mentality of too many illegal immigrants living here is that the America's laws don't apply to them, since they're already here illegally. This might seem unfair, but it's true; I bear witness to that every day.
There are a host of other issues that America's illegal immigration problem creates - such as driving down the minimum wage, taxing the overburdened free health care system and creating an underground, tax-free economy that depresses everybody's earnings.
(Paleo-conservatives have other concerns; like how every other sign and brochure seems to be printed in Spanish these days, and how what makes up quintessentially 'America' culture seems to be getting increasingly diluted by influences from south of border. I'm not sure how valid these claims are - after all, they said the same thing about the Italians and Irish at the turn of the 20th century - but it certainly goes a long way towards explaining why this immigration law is so popular in Arizona. )
But my issue isn't with any of those concerns - I'll leave them to the more rabid conservatives on the Internet. The reason I support this bill is because I object to people breaking the law with impunity; and having lived and worked in a country which required people to carry ID with them, I really don't see what the big fuss about this issue is.
If people accuse me of being racist for supporting this law, they're wrong. What's more, I think many liberals know that themselves; and are only using the 'racist card' to try and shame people into silence. That's a bad ploy, and has forced formerly moderate people like me to side with the right wing on this issue.