Latter-day Saints, I want you to imagine the following scenario. You are in Arizona. You are driving to the temple with several other members of the ward. You are stopped for speeding (yes, even people on the way to the temple speed sometimes). One of the members of your ward is Hispanic, speaks with an accent and has dark skin. The police come up to your car, spot the man in the backseat with dark skin, and tell him to step out of the car. He smiles in disbelief but obeys the orders from authorities. They ask him to produce his resident alien documentation. This man has lived in the country for decades but was not driving, so he didn’t bring his driver’s license. The only documentation he has is his temple recommend. The man is promptly arrested by police until he can prove he is legal.
Too far-fetched to believe in America? Actually no.
A new anti-immigration law in Arizona requires people who may be recent immigrants to carry documentation providing they are legal. Let’s stop and think about this for a second. Given the new law, what happens to the policeman who sees a Hispanic-looking person but decides it is a bit much to bug him about his documentation? That policeman is violating the law.
Is it too much to now say that all Hispanic-looking people in Arizona are now suspect of being there illegally and will be profiled, including our fellow Latter-day Saints?
I remind our readers that the Constitution was specifically written to provide individuals protection against the government. By granting to police the requirement that they must ask for documentation from people they suspect are illegal immigrants, we are giving the government new powers, powers that run exactly counter to the American project of individual freedom. This governmental power is extremely dangerous and will by necessity decrease freedom. In this case, if you have the wrong skin color and forget to carry your driver’s licenses, you may be arrested.
I understand the frustration of the people of Arizona. The drug war in Mexico has not been contained to Mexico. Illegal immigrants have indeed flooded into Arizona, although the flow is much smaller now given that the Mexican economy is growing faster than the U.S. economy.
Surely we can deal with illegal immigration without giving away our freedom?