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Friday, April 30, 2010

CHECK MATE

Hmm.  Have been deep in thought this morning - mulling this whole "Mexicans to March in 70 Cities" thing, and I'm wondering if knockoffs of logic were on sale this month.

When I go to Matamoros or Progreso in Mexico - border towns near my hometown of Brownsville, Texas - I pay a toll to get into the country.  Pretty simple "Hi, I want to visit for a little while, buy some stuff, eat, drink, and bring my stuff back home - to my home - the United States. No, I'm not coming to work. I know I can't do that without a permit. I know better than to break laws in your country.  Just visiting, really. Thanks!"

When I come back across the border, I sit in line in my car with my family and friends and wait my turn.
When it's my turn, I know what to do when the U.S. Border Patrol agent peers into my vehicle, studies us, and asks directly, "Are you an American citizen?" I tell the truth.  "Yes, sir/ma'am." "Are you carrying anything illegal?" "No, sir/ma'am." Simple questions, simple answers.  I just tell the truth. I know I can't set up a residence in Mexico, a business in Mexico . . . I know that.  There are laws in that country, and I'm not a citizen. I respect their laws as much as I respect the laws of my country.  And I drive home, where I work, pay taxes, vote, raise my kids ands and enjoy the benefits of the rights afforded to me by my citizenship here.

Now Arizona is under fire for their recent stance on criminal aliens, and I don't understand the anger of my fellow Americans of Mexican descent. My t-shirt says, "I'm Mexican and I'm Not Mad." Here's why:

- If I'm speeding in Arizona, I'm breaking the law. Pull me over. I'm a citizen breaking the law. I deserve the ticket.
- If I'm weaving in traffic and appear to be impaired, I could be breaking the law or need help. Pull me over.  I'm a citizen who is either breaking the law or a citizen who needs help. I either deserve a ticket, jail time, or assistance.
- If I break into someone's house and help myself to their stuff, arrest me.  I'm a citizen breaking one or more laws.  I deserve what I get.

If in any of the scenarios above, you as a law enforcement officer need to verify my status as a US citizen, feel free.  You're going to verify my age, date of birth, gender, hair and eye color and drivers license number anyway when you get my license from me, so what's an extra check, mate? If I'm driving, you're going to verify my vehicle registration, inspection status and my insurance.  Doesn't bother me. I'm a citizen, and I might be breaking the law.  Do what you need to do.

Now, let's say I'm NOT a citizen . . .

I'm a criminal alien who is speeding down US roads.  I ignored the process for legally immigrating, and I am ignoring the rest of your laws.
I'm a criminal alien driving impaired down US roads.  I not only ignored your laws for legally immigrating, I'm having a blast doing it.
I'm a criminal alien who breaks into someone's home. I am here illegally mooching off your system, and now I also want the stuff out of your house and who cares if you paid for it all yourself.

It's baffling to me.  I go to the Social Security office, and I stand in line. It sucks, but I have to follow procedures set before me like every other citizen, so I do it.  I go to the DMV, and I stand in line. That sucks equally, but again, procedures and rules - so I do it.  I stand in line to renew my car registration, I stand in line to get a copy of a birth certificate, I stand in line to get a marriage license. I AM AN AMERICAN, AND I SPEND MY LIFE IN LINES.  At the end of each of these lines, what do I have to do?  I have to prove who I am. I have to show identification - I have to prove I am a citizen.

I am an American, and I have to prove I am a citizen on a regular basis for the rest of my life.  What's more, if I want to move to Mexico and start a spider monkey circus, I'll have to do what?  Stand in lines in Mexico. Ain't that something?

I hear "racial profiling" as the reason for this GASPSHOCKHORROR reaction from folks, and I wonder this: are they not aware of the power of a civil rights lawsuit against a police force?  Are they not aware that real citizens are protected by the law against such behavior? If a crazy man from Tasmania is driving down the road shooting a gun and cops pull him over, is there really a problem with asking him to provide documentation confirming his legal status while he's being cited for endangering lives including his own? Probably not.

Just don't ask a criminal alien from Mexico, because at that point, it stops being about safety (despite the fact that many aliens live in the US and benefit greatly from circumventing the system) and starts being about racism.

By the way, don't get offended, but the next time we talk, I may have to ask you to show me your logic . . .

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