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domingo, abril 25, 2010

Papers Please/Papeles Por Favor

Please add the following update to your travel guides about visiting Arizona. It may be of assistance in avoiding discussions with Arizona law enforcement, arrest and detention, and harassment. If you already live in Arizona, something I wish on no one, you already know everything I am about to say. I am writing this so that others may reflect on your situation.

This is a bus stop in Tucson, Arizona. I know it doesn't look like a bus stop in New York, or Chicago, or New Orleans. This is an Arizona bus stop:

There are some things that are very important if you are waiting for the bus at such a stop in Arizona. These are not listed in order of importance. One of these things is not to wear shoes that look like Huaraches. This is a huarache:

If you wear this kind of foot gear, foot gear that was worn in Arizona and Mexico before 1500, police might think they should approach you.

Another thing not to do is wear a guayabera. This is a guayabera:

Guayaberas are incredibly comfortable and stylish wear in warm places. Like Arizona. Guayaberas probably come originally from Cuba, but they are popular throughout Central America. And Mexico. And some people think they originated in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. If you wear this kind of shirt, a shirt that has been worn throughout this hemisphere for more than 100 years, and was worn in Arizona before it became a state, police might think they should approach you.

Another thing not to do is read newspapers in Spanish. This is what a Spanish language newspaper looks like:

Spanish language newspapers are really helpful if you're trying to learn Spanish, a language which will soon be spoken by more than half of the people in the US. Some Spanish language newspapers have wonderful local coverage and fantastic sports coverage. If you want that information, you can read the paper. And of course, there are a lot of people who just find it easier to read a Spanish language paper than an English one. Because Spanish is their original language. Nevertheless, if you read this kind of newspaper while you're waiting for a bus, the police might think they should approach you.

A burrito is a flour tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling. The important part of the burrito is that it is made with a tortilla, and it looks like this:

If you are eating tortillas in any form-- burrito, tacos, enchiladas, totopos-- while waiting for a bus, the police might think they should approach you.

There is one other thing that will probably make the police think they should approach you. This is probably the most important, though some Arizona officials deny it. You probably know what this is. If you are brown skinned, or the police think you appear to be stereotypically Mexican, the police might think they should approach you. It does not matter to them that you are a US citizen and that your family has been in Arizona for 350 years, or that you are a US citizen who was naturalized more recently, or that you are legally in the US, or that you are a Sephardic Jew, or Pakistani or Indian or an Arab or an Original American. It doesn't matter to the the police whether you are part of the vast Mestizo race that has lived in North America from Vancouver to Panama City for 5 centuries. They will think they can approach you and ask you for proof that you are legally waiting for the bus.

Of course, the chances, if you are illegally in the US from China, Canada, England, Ireland, Germany or Sweden, that you will be asked to show your papers is incredibly small.

The key salient factor in having conversations with the police and being asked to show your papers is skin tone. Please mark you travel guide accordingly.

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Anonymous Anónimo said...

Shame on AZ, look being primitive racists resembling a Tropen Kommandant sending cops to approach as watchdogs to anybody looking as of 'reasonable suspicion' this clearly being of Hispanic descent). It's is disguised as a 'reasonable profiling law.

8:21 p.m.  
Anonymous Anónimo said...

I would doubt about Sikhs descent even being 3rd generation of Canadian Sikhs . Take for grante that would be asked to show papers The turbant would be the trigger for chase them.

8:27 p.m.  

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