Republican Party

Papers, Please

The Republican Arizona law in practice:

PHOENIX – A Valley man says he was pulled over Wednesday morning and questioned when he arrived at a weigh station for his commercial vehicle along Val Vista and the 202 freeway.

Abdon, who did not want to use his last name, says he provided several key pieces of information but what he provided apparently was not what was needed.

He tells 3TV, “I don't think it's correct, if I have to take my birth certificate with me all the time.” [...]

Abdon was told he did not have enough paperwork on him when he pulled into a weigh station to have his commercial truck checked. He provided his commercial driver’s license and a social security number but ended up handcuffed. [...]

[Abdon's wife] Jackie explains, “I have his social security card as well and mine. He's legit. It's the first time it's ever happened.”

Both were born in the United States and say they are now both infuriated that keeping important documents safely at home is no longer an option.

Here's a naturally born U.S. citizen who was unjustly (though now "legally") harassed and shackled based entirely upon his physical appearance.

Following the Civil War and throughout the first half of the 20th Century, African Americans were rounded up in a similar way in the South. They were plucked off the street on perfectly "legal" charges like vagrancy and sold into an underground slave trade, be it literal slavery or slavery through the chain gang prison system of that era.

Vagrancy laws, at that time in the post-Reconstruction South, allowed law enforcement to stop African Americans on the street and ask for papers proving employment. If you didn't have your papers, you were most likely arrested and "sold" into this neo-slave trade.

While a neo-slavery component already exists in the form of illegal immigrant labor on corporate farms and meat packing plants, we're essentially seeing a rerun of what happened in the Jim Crow South played out in Arizona with citizens being rounded up based upon their racial characteristics. I suspect it's only a matter of time before this law evolves into officials getting paid off by corporate agri-businesses to round up and supply cheap labor.