Papers, Please.

Gabe mentioned this previously, but all those small-government Republicans in Arizona are busy passing a draconian law that would essentially make it illegal to be Latino and in Arizona without proof of citizenship:

The bill makes it a state crime for immigrants not to carry authorization papers, requires the police “when practicable” to check the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally and allows people to sue cities and counties if the law is not being enforced.

What does "reasonably suspect" mean? The bill nominally prohibits investigation of "complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin," but there really isn't any doubt that people of Latino descent regardless of citizenship are the target of this law, or that its impact will fall squarely on them in practice.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, who wrote the law, has this funny habit of accidentally associating himself with white supremacists. He doesn't believe in the 14th Amendment which grants American citizenship to anyone born on American soil because he doesn't like "Mexicans' and Central Americans' 'way of doing business.'" That's not a race thing though, Pearce says; it's "because the culture is different."

One Republican state senator, Bill Konopnicki, told The New York Times that Arizona would “look like Alabama in the ’60s” if Gov. Jan Brewer signs the law.

Among other things, this episode illustrates the folly of having tapped Janet Napolitano to serve as secretary of homeland security, given her past role as a check against the worst anti-immigrant impulses of Arizona politicians when she was the state's governor. We also see what the GOP means by small government: a nonexistent social safety net combined with the draconian application of state force against anyone who doesn't match their narrow definition of "American."

-- A. Serwer

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