I'm pretty certain many of my friends are going to disagree with me on this post. I respect their opinion and I hope they grant me the same respect on mine.
I happened to notice this article today. Normally, I don't discuss my opinions on bills passed in the legislature with anyone beside my closest friends and family. If there is something I have learned through the years, you don't discuss religion or politics with people you aren't sure will be able to "agree to disagree" with you.
But this particular bill hits home for me because I am an IMMIGRANT. Note I capitalize that because there is a difference among immigrants. Some of us are here legally, others are not. This post isn't about illegal immigration per se.
What it is about is how I don't think this bill would help defray illegal immigrants from coming to the state looking for work. All this bill will do is nurture the fear and prejudice of people, who think all who are different from them represent a threat to their way of life.
I happen to be one of those people who is different. I am an immigrant, I speak another language beside English. And yes, people have said to my face I am a threat to them, that I am taking jobs from their family. I had to laugh, I hate to admit it. I laughed. I am a professional engineer with 2 degrees in Engineering but I was taking a job away from a high school dropout. Yet there are more people like this person out there.
I am a US citizen, have been a citizen for many years. Even before I became a citizen, I paid taxes like the rest of the people in this state. I'm also fortunate enough to serve the taxpayers of this state by the work I do for a state agency. As you see, I don't feel I'm a threat to anyone. I am a registered voter, I am involved in my community, I attend church regularly, I follow the letter of the law.
Yet if this bill becomes law, I will become a threat only because of the way I look. That law would give a police officer the right to stop me just because he has probable cause to think I may be an illegal immigrant. And that probable cause would be the way I look.
I know what you are thinking. Why are you worried if you are a US citizen? You have nothing to worry about. Not exactly. You see, none of you (black or white) walks around with a copy of your birth certificate in your pocket or purse. You don't have to. I have no proof of my citizenship in my purse either. I wasn't given a handy card I could carry in my pocket to prove to anyone I am a citizen of this country. I was given a 8" by 11" document that specifically says it is NOT to be copied for any purpose.
I have a driver license, but a driver license does not prove citizenship. I wonder how many people know that. So even though I have a driver license issued by this state, I could still be detained because it does not prove I am here legally or that I am a citizen.
I think the times and efforts of the MS Legislature would be better spent coming up with a bill that levies heavier penalties on companies who hired illegal workers. Companies are getting away with a slap on the wrist and little else.
Let's face it, people come here in search of the American dream. If they can't find it here because they are not finding jobs, they will leave. No one wants to live on the streets, folks, I can attest to it.
In my opinion, this bill will do nothing more than to nurture the prejudice and racism of some who think anyone who looks different than them is unworthy of living in civilized society.
Let's find a solution to the problem without alienating people, without making those of us lucky enough to stand out in a crowd feel like criminals, even when we are not.
And if it becomes law, look for me in the 10 o'clock news. I'll be the one screaming while getting arrested for not having proof of citizenship with me.