Sunday, May 16, 2010

Long and Winding Road: Kids: Keep your ID in your lunchbox

Long and Winding Road: Kids: Keep your ID in your lunchbox

Arizona Daily Sun

As a youngster and to this day, one of my sons has had a special knack for losing things.

As a toddler, he'd forget where he left his shoes.

In grade school, he regularly kept the lost-and-found box in action.

As a teen, it was his keys or his wallet that mysteriously wandered off.

So it wouldn't be surprising if the police stopped him some day and he did not have his ID on him, or even at home. This could now be a problem, however, since he's an Arizona resident.

Lucky for us, we're Anglo.

So while it might be a hassle for him to deal with, there wouldn't be much of a chance that he'd spend the night in jail until his identity was cleared up.

But what about our Hispanic neighbors? Yes, by "ours" I mean "all of ours." And I also mean the family that lives across the street from us.

On school-day mornings, I watch Loretta's grandchildren file out of the house as she ushers them to Marshall Elementary School. Siblings and cousins, they scamper and chatter through our little neighborhood park, looking like a covey of quail.

Now our legislators and governor have seen fit to pass Senate Bill 1070, which makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, and would require law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they "reasonably suspect" are here illegally.

"What is going on?" Loretta asks.

Will Loretta, whose fraternal grandparents arrived in this country in 1898, look forward to the day her grandchildren can walk to school on their own? Or will she now worry that her son's or daughter's middle school students will be stopped on their way to school?

The bill's fans say nobody will be detained based on race alone. A person will need to be stopped first for some other suspected illegal act, they insist.

But what if the neighborhood grandchildren jaywalk and are then detained by, perhaps, a police officer new to the community, who's unaware that these children have grown up here, as have their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents? Or that the children's Grandfather, Lupe, served in the U.S. Marine Corps? These children are as much legal residents as is my son, who won't be stopped to hand over an I.D. -- because he's white.

It's one thing to have identification at the ready in airports and when applying for a passport. But to have one just to breathe in and out each day?

Like many people, Loretta knows good people, hard workers, who live and work here without documentation. According to SB1070, if she gives them a ride somewhere, she is breaking the law. She doesn't believe a state law should take away her rights as an American to help others.

When Loretta or her children call out each morning to the kids, "Do you have your lunch?" "Did you remember your homework?" must they now add, "Don't forget your ID in case you get stopped on your way to school!"

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