Prologue: A federal judge has blocked the major provisions of Arizona's controversial new immigration law, SB 1070. Arizona governor Jan Brewer vows to appeal the ruling.
Went to work the other day--THIRTEEN years at the same company--and they said: "You need to sign some papers and produce some documentation to prove you have a legal right to be in this country." This country where I was born--just down the road at St. Mary's Hospital.
And I said what if I didn't--and they said you'll never work in this town again!
And the form said, in effect: Are you now, or have you ever been an illegal alien/terrorist scum? And I remembered that I had been an illegal speeder and red light runner, and I had been an illegal jaywalker, and an illegal accumulator of about a dozen unpaid parking tickets...but I didn't equate that with "illegal alien/terrorist scum," and so I marked the box that said no.
And then it said provide one form of ID from column "A," or one from column "B," AND one from column "C." But I don't normally carry my passport and/or birth certificate around with me--here in this place where I was born, just down the road apiece--and so I shrugged and said: No lo tengo.
And they looked at me...suspiciously...here in the place where I've been coming in every morning for the past thirteen years--where everyone served up a friendly smile and knew my name--and suddenly, I was Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life: BERT! ERNIE! DONCHA KNOW ME? IT'S ME--GEORGE BAILEY!
But they didn't know me. I had ceased to exist. I had no DOCUMENTATION. Documentation that divides us as a nation into US and THEM. And if there's anything that frightens the bejesus out of us--here in our land of the free and home of the brave--it's THEM.
"Bring in your passport tomorrow," they said...and I could feel their eyes following me as I walked on down the hall...