This seems to be anti-immigrant day. For the third time today, I'm forced to report yet another attempt by the Bush WH to crack down on illegal immigrants by breaking the rules of civilized behavior. First, we had splitting up familes (and even losing some family members), then we had a geometric harshening of penalties without warning (from deportation to prison), and now there's this:
Boys and girls, are you trying to evacuate before a hurricane or other natural disaster so you don't get killed? Better bring your birth certificate with you.
Ending speculation about the fate of the Rio Grande Valley's undocumented immigrants during a hurricane evacuation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has confirmed it will check the citizenship both of people boarding buses to leave the Valley and at inland traffic checkpoints.
Those determined to be in the country illegally will be taken to detention centers away from the hurricane's path and later processed for deportation.
"It's business as usual at the checkpoints," said Dan Doty, spokesman for CBP's Rio Grande Valley sector. "We'll still check everybody."
Not everyone is thrilled with the new Bush policy, as you can imagine.
Locals responded with predictions of humanitarian disaster.
"We can't wait to see the helicopter photos of us sitting on roofs," said the Rev. Mike Seifert, a priest and activist based in a colonia outside Brownsville. The many area families with one or more undocumented members would just refuse to evacuate, he said.
"Imagine," Seifert said. "We're all in an uproar, everybody's in an enormous hurry, there's just a narrow window of opportunity and you get to the place with the buses and the Border Patrol's checking people. You're not going to go."
Maybe nobody will. Most of us don't carry our documentation with us. Only in an authoritarian state like Soviet Russia or Pinochet's Chile would it be necessary. People in authoritarian states make sure to have their documentation with them at all times because, well, you never know when the secret police are going to stop you, demand it, drag you off to jail if you don't have it. Carrying your "papers" with you always has been a sign (remember all those WW II movies when you knew you were in Nazi Territory when cops asked the hero for his "identification papers" right there on the street while the bombs were falling?) of dictatorial states, states with the idea that "citizens" were nothing but cattle to be shunted from here to there, sold, bought, sold again, that they had no "rights" except the right to obey the dictator.
Now it seems like we Americans had better have our "identification papers" with us at all times, especially during emergencies, or the customs police might decide we're illegal and deport us - or throw us in prison.
Wanna tell me it can't happen here?