Scratching my head about immigration


If, like me, this immigration flap makes you feel like you’re drowning in black hole of blabbering liberal fatuity, here is a life-ring of lucidity from the Paul Theroux at the Daily Beast (via Jillian Bandes at Townhall): 

These people who are protesting being asked for identification by Arizona cops—have they been anywhere lately, like out of the country? Like Mexico, or Canada, or India, or Italy, or Tanzania, or Singapore, or Britain—places where people in uniforms have routinely demanded my papers? Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen is offended (“as a Latin American”) by the Arizona law and recently claimed that all illegal immigrants are “workaholics.” Has he been back to the land of his birth lately, Venezuela, and expected not to be asked for his papers? Ozzie, tell the police in Ocumare del Tuy, “I’m a Latin American,” and see if that will end the interrogation. And spare a thought for the policeman two days ago who was gunned down in the desert by a workaholic drug dealer.

This whole thing makes me feel like I’m three years old again, tugging my mother’s skirt and asking, “Why?” There is so much about this subject I just don’t get. Especially when geniuses like Joy Behar weigh in:

“Do you think it’s kind of – doesn’t it feel like sort of Nazism a little bit?” Behar asked. “I don’t want to overstate it, but ‘may I see your papers,’ you know?”

Theroux’s piece proves either one of two things: Requesting identification from foreigners does not make America the Fourth Reich or Hitler really did take over the world and no one noticed.  

Not long ago I was in Italy, traveling by train from the small city of Udine, in the north, to Venice, a ride of about an hour and a half. I was sitting in a car among the usual people you find in an Italian train on a Saturday morning—families with children, old women with groceries, grubby students, and obvious non-Italians, a scattering of Asians and West Africans. And yet, when two policemen entered the car, one of them stood by the door and the other headed directly for me.

I showed him my train ticket. He brushed it aside and said, “Nazionalitá?”


“Passaporto.” And he stuck out his hand.

“It’s in my hotel,” I said, in Italian. “Why do I need it?”

“You’re a foreigner,” he said. Straniero is a nice word: alien, stranger, outsider. “Foreigners have to carry their passports at all times.”

“Perché la persecuzione?” I said lightly. “What about the other foreigners here?”

“Non fare farabutto!” he said very sharply. This is not a happy expression. It means unequivocally, “Don’t be a wise-ass.”

I showed him my Hawaii driver’s license and he spent the next 10 minutes on his cellphone spelling my name and reciting aloud all the information on my license, including my unpronounceable Hawaii address, to Headquarters.

My Italian friends were abashed when I told them, but they then moaned about all the Albanians, Moghrebis, Slovenians, Senegalese, Pakistanis, and others who had taken illegal residence in that part of Italy, delightful Friuli. A few might be mopping floors, making coffee, or catering to the sexual needs of Italian men, but the rest are ill-assorted, a combination of parasites, takers, layabouts, moaners, drug dealers, and hard workers.

There is still a lot about the Arizona controversy that mystifies me. For example, you would think that prior to the new legislation, Arizona cops didn’t request identification from drivers stopped for speeding, or a tail-light out, or running a stop-sign, or whatever. Maybe I’m simple-minded, because I can’t get beyond that. Everybody knows if you are pulled over, the cop is going to want your driver’s license. Why is that controversial? Why is Arizona making it law now? Why is everyone mad at Arizona for making it law? Why are we even talking about this?

What next? Arizonan racists pass a law outlawing shoplifting? Or impose a speed limit? Or require drivers to stop at red lights?

Or are Democrats juicing up a voting bloc at the expense of rule of law and national security by leaning on Arizona to selectively enforce laws already on the books and give certain law-breakers a pass. Theroux demonstrates that this is a common but dangerous practice:

As for this Arizona law (which is understandable until the federal government takes a stand), I am delighted to be reassured that there will be no racial profiling. The illegals in Arizona are not just Hispanics. Those of you who have read Dark Star Safari, my book about traveling through Africa, might remember how, in the Sudan, I met a Sudanese man (on vacation in Khartoum from New York) who explained very carefully how he had entered the United States illegally, the best way: Go to Mexico, pay someone some money, and then hide in a fish truck or a vegetable van and hop the border. Sudanese, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis, Brazilians. Illegal aliens come from all over the world to converge on the Arizona, California, and New Mexico borders. The Hispanics are right to be a little indignant, but just a little. It is much easier to sneak into the U.S. than to apply for a residence permit.

I travel a lot. Paperwork and credentials are a big deal in foreign countries. I keep my passport readily available, because it is required often. Not to mention the interminable forms inquiring where I came from, where I’m staying, how I got there, how long I’ll be there, why I’m there, my address, phone number, passport number, etc., etc, etc.

I would imagine Joy Behar travels. It must be a dark, scary world for her if she sees Gestapo every time someone asks to see her “papers.”

As for me, I’m not scared. Just confused.

More developments at Hot Air and Left Coast Rebel.

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