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Andrew Samwick Volunteers to Live in a Police State

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Andrew Samwick Volunteers to Live in a Police State"

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Andrew Samwick mounts what is at least a coherent defense of the Arizona immigration law—he’s just not interested in personal liberty:

I think most of the negative reaction to the recently signed immigration law in Arizona has it exactly backwards. If you told me that by carrying personal identification and producing it when asked by state police, I could play some role in preventing one of my countrymen from meeting the same fate as Rob Krentz, I would happily do it. I would consider it a small price to pay, as I do each time I show identification at legal border crossings. The legal residents of Arizona, of whatever race or ethnicity, should be banding together to protect the other legal residents of their state, of whatever race or ethnicity, against harm that results from illegal crossings of their southern border. Failing to protect each other from violent crime — not from a request for identification from state police — is what “undermines basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

When I was in Russia back 12 years ago, it was a situation where random policemen would demand that Americans produce our papers if they heard us speaking English. This was annoying on its own terms, and doubly-annoying when policemen would use it as a pretext to shake me down for a bribe on the grounds that my visa was somewhere out of order. It’s also really quite anxiety provoking to be in a situation where you’re constantly worried that if your documents are stolen or lost you’re going to be up the creek without a paddle. Personally, I actually do find America’s lack of a uniform National ID Card to be a bit odd, but I recognize that it’s part of the American spirit and I’m certainly glad that we’re not expected to be able to produce one on demand, at random, on pain of imprisonment.

Meanwhile, note that Arizona politicians certainly didn’t implement what Samwick is proposing—a race- and language-blind abdication of basic freedoms. Instead, the whole point of the law is that white Anglophone Arizonans figure they’ll never be hassled by this rule.

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