As previously reported, U.S. agencies and other groups seem to be moving towards requiring proof of citizenship. In addition, many local law enforcement agencies are becoming agents of immigration enforcement through new laws that require officers to report immigration status.
The Washington Post reports that Virginia now mandates jail officials to notify federal authorities when inmates are born abroad regardless of immigration status. Virginia is just one state among many that is moving to have local authorities act as agents of Homeland Security. Better hope you don’t have a common name, like Alicia Rodriguez. Because even speaking English as a first language didn’t help her that much.
The Tennessee DMV, which now mandates immigration status checks, has already racked up a series of complaints by legal residents, citizens, refugees and persons who speak English as a second language.
Why? Because some of us appear less “American” than others.
Here’s the conundrum. Supposedly if you are a U.S. citizen you are not required to carry papers proving citizenship. After all, we’re not a police state, are we? (Are we? Are we?) However, if local law enforcement suspects that you’re not a citizen you might wish you had those papers on you. Because otherwise maybe you’ll be deported. Just ask Pedro Guzman.
There is a distinct difference between having citizenship and being able to prove it. How quickly can you prove your citizenship? What if the CIS has to make a determination of status? In the case of one WWII veteran’s son, it took three years before he could persuade the State Department to issue a passport. He still doesn’t have a certificate of citizenship.
In that case, the individual wanted to prove citizenship for benefits. But what happens if deportation is imminent?
The trend towards having local agencies enforce immigration is one that should be deeply disturbing to us all. The manner in which this power may be abused is horrible to contemplate. And how can local law enforcement be expected to know or understand immigration law? But maybe it doesn’t occur to the average white American because they cannot conceive of themselves as ever being considered non-citizens. Just one of the privileges. Although I note that the Ottawa woman jailed for the speeding violation (second link above) was, as she noted, white and blonde.
Finally, as a slight digression, this brings up Reason 9 for Why I hate adoptive parents. Because white parents are so thoroughly steeped in their privilege, they can’t imagine that their children don’t have that privilege as well. And they don’t recognize that maybe their children need the protection of proof of citizenship. Not just citizenship. If you have never filed for a certificate of citizenship, you have no real way of knowing whether or not the CIS considers your child a citizen. That’s a gamble I don’t think parents should take.
We’ve already had one comment on this post arguing with the interpretation of the Child Citizenship Act. The poster (whom I would be willing to bet is a white adoptive parent) also notes that you don’t “need” a certificate of citizenship for your adopted child.
Well, here I guess what it comes down to is your definition of “need.” But as one of the brown, I can say safely that I need to have proof of my citizenship. Otherwise I better work on my non-English language skills.