Last week Arizona governor, Jan Brewer (R), signed what is being called the “Papers, Please” law.  This law states that the police can stop anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally and ask them to present proof that they are indeed in the United States legally.  Although, when asked, Governor Brewer could not specify what an illegal immigrant looked like.  Just today, the governor signed a follow-up law that stipulates that an officer can only inquire about a person’s legal status after catching them in violation of other laws.  This law basically tells law enforcement officials to use racial profiling, because come on, which people do you think they’ll see on the street and speculate as to their legal residency?  The blond, pale person with a southern drawl, or the dark-haired, brown-skinned person with a Hispanic accent?  Seriously.  No qualifier can save this law from its racist status.  When you sign a law that says to stop someone who looks illegal, you require them to pay attention to a person’s looks.  Period.

The thing is; these days people don’t believe you when you show your papers.  Just ask President Obama.  Since his nomination, some people have questioned Obama’s legal status.  They’re still asking for his birth certificate.  Time and time again newscasters have shown the president’s birth certificate from Honolulu, Hawaii and time and time again people (birthers) gather asking for proof of the president’s citizenship.  Apparently, papers prove nothing when your skin is darker than ivory.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the frustration about Immigration Reform, but there is a better way to handle it than this racist theme the Republican Party has been going with.  The harsh reality is that legal citizenship is too difficult for many of the people who wish to be legal American citizens.  What we need to do is give legal status to those already residing and create ways for non-Americans to come to the United States and gain legal status.  We used to thrive on that.  What happened to that America?  What changed us from the people who were made up of all different kinds of ethnicities and embraced each other in a melting pot to the people who want closed borders and English only, please?

I guess the best jumping off place would be to open up our hearts and minds to the fact that all people are equal and deserve an equal chance at happiness; not just the people who happened to be born here.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of you teamming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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