The Rampage of “Papers Please” Continues

Farmers have lost millions of dollars of crops, businesses are losing their employees of foreign descent despite their legal status, children are scared to go to school, immigrants cannot sign up to pay for state utilities, and now the libraries are following in their footsteps.

Even library visitors have not been spared from Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56. Since Sept. 1 (before the law went into effect), the North Shelby County Library has asked people who want a library card to prove their legal status or citizenship. The president of the library’s board of directors defended the decision, saying, “We have to follow the rules that all businesses must follow.” The library is considered a public corporation but operates as a nonprofit after the state legislature created the district in 1988, so it possibly falls under a provision in HB 56 that bans business transactions between the state and undocumented immigrants.

If you have brown skin, live in the state of Alabama, and are interested in obtaining a library card, you may want to take your birth certificate with you, whether you are legal or not. Because I highly doubt they're requesting that white people provide proof of citizenship or legal status.

That would just be un-American.

  • Scott Reilly

    Understood on all points, except the legal workers being scared away. That doesn’t sound right to me. I mean, I get the embarrassment factor, but they have enough fuck you money to leave their job and move out of state to find other work? In this economy? I respect them for doing so, but doesn’t seem possible these days.

    • IrishGrrrl

      Scott, do a thought experiment on this. Let’s say you are a legal Hispanic worker, who even speaks English well. You are even a citizen. One day going to work you forgot your papers (if you even had a copy of them, I don’t carry mine around, do you?). You and your kids are in the car and you get pulled over. They ask for your papers and you don’t have them. They are now allowed to pull you out of your car and detain you. This will scare the crap out of your kids because cops are scary to most little brown kids in America (if I have to explain why that’s the case, then we need to start at the very beginning of American History 101). It’s also scary because they’ve seen the parents of some of their illegal friends get deported. Now it isn’t logical that their parent could get deported BUT kids aren’t logic machines and all they can think about is “will they take my Mommy or Daddy away from me”. The kids may or may not be detained with the parent….separating them from the parent freaks them out more. Even if your kids aren’t with you, they are at school or home and wondering why their parents aren’t picking them up or hasn’t come home. There are other issues…what if you’re legal but your spouse isn’t. What if one of your kids is legal but you aren’t…..these situations aren’t so cut and dried. So the first big issue is how it terrifies their kids and the complications of deportation/detention to families where any mixed-status may exist.

      Until you can prove you are a citizen you can be detained. Detention can last anywhere from 1 week to 4 years. What does that mean? Is your boss going to hold your minimum wage job for you? Or do you get paid only for the work you do? How many days of lost wages will you suffer as a result? Do you get that one phone call and do you call your boss or a lawyer or your spouse (if you have one)? This would be an incredibly stressful event. So now you have a financial impact and a very stressful incident affecting the individual.

      Even if you are citizen, even if you have documentation to prove it, it doesn’t mean that you won’t STILL get deported. Check out this story of a citizen, an ex-Marine who was deported. Studies show 1% of those detained are US citizens…not a lot, right? Wrong. We deported about 400,000 people last year, which means 4,000 of those were citizens. That’s a lot of civil rights violated, wouldn’t you say?

      If you get deported, your status could forever be in question afterward EVEN if you are a citizen (again I refer to the link above). So, is it starting to make sense why legal workers might be scared off? Unless you’ve lived with such harassment, it is hard to understand. But ask any African American who has been pulled over multiple times in their life for “driving while black”. The harm is much greater than you or I as white citizens can initially appreciate.

      As for them being able to move? Many of these families have very few possessions and aren’t tied down the way most middle class families are. To put everything in the pickup truck and just drive to a new state to start over isn’t that much of burden. We had 200,000 leave AZ like this, many in the middle of the night. In some cases, mostly families here illegally, the father’s are staying behind to finish picking the crops while they send their wives and children on to the new state to get settled. Once they get to the new state the wife has no means of surviving until the father can join them. The problem with Alabama’s law is that it shifted many people to surrounding states like Florida. Once FL passes a similar law (and they’re discussing it right now) those people will move again. Which state will be burdened next? This state by state harassment is not only immoral and illegal but it’s incredibly impractical. Any Hispanic in the U.S. right now should be worried and by extension so should white people. First they came for group A, then they came for group B, and then they came for me…..

  • Scott Reilly

    Disclaimer, I don’t know all of the details other than what Colbert talked about the other night. I don’t agree with the law, but I’m having trouble understanding two things.

    First, why would a LEGAL immigrant be scared away by this? Is it that they have illegal family members they are hiding, or do they just not understand the law?

    Second, with all of the unemployment, legal immigrants and/or citizens seriously won’t do the work? In these times, that’s just unreal.

    Although, this is a perfect way to let the sacred Market work it’s “magic”, which in this case seems to be to pay higher salaries to attract workers. And that’s what the companies want, right?

    • JMAshby

      Why would a legal immigrant be scared away?

      Because it encourages racial profiling. Because it’s embarrassing. Because they shouldn’t have to carry proof of citizenship with them at all times just because they have colored skin. Because they may have friends or family who are undocumented.

      Recent evidence shows the positions go unfilled, or people who are hired quit after one or two days on the job. Farmers have lost millions of dollars of crops because they literally can’t find enough people to pick them.

      As long as we have a low-cost food policy in this nation, the agriculture industry will never pay attractive salaries and benefits. Not while we expect to pay a dollar or less for a burrito. And until we change our policies, not just on food but on labor in general, our economy will continue to be subsidized by undocumented help.

      It’s a predicament for conservative policy makers. They really hate people with colored skin, but they can’t live without them. Or rather, their businesses can’t live without them.