Unintended Consequences

Multiple state legislatures have followed the lead of Arizona* and passed Juan Crow laws, making it illegal to exist in the state (even to the point of making business transactions illegal) without proof of citizenship on hand at all times.  Alabama has been in the news lately for who their heavy hand has been smacking around in the process:

“Hey, this guy doesn’t have his license! Okay, Miguel, outta the f*cking car!“:

A German manager with Mercedes-Benz is free after being arrested for not having a driver’s license with him under Alabama’s new law targeting illegal immigrants, authorities said Friday, in an otherwise routine case that drew the attention of Gov. Robert Bentley.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson told The Associated Press an officer stopped a rental vehicle for not having a tag Wednesday night and asked the driver for his license. The man only had a German identification card, so he was arrested and taken to police headquarters, Anderson said.

The 46-year-old executive was charged with violating the immigration law for not having proper identification, but he was released after an associate retrieved his passport, visa and German driver’s license from the hotel where he was staying, Anderson said.

“We are terribly sorry about that, Mr. Hager. Please, tell your associates back in Germany they are always welcome here.”

(a couple weeks pass)

“License, registration and papers! Habla Inglés, imbécil?“:

A second foreign auto worker has been stopped by authorities in Alabama, where the nation’s toughest immigration law recently went into effect, officials said on Wednesday.

A Honda worker on assignment at the company’s Lincoln, Alabama, factory was issued a citation.

The immigration law requires proper identification to be produced during routine traffic stops. People suspected of being in the country illegally can be detained.

“We understand he is working with authorities to resolve this matter,” said Ted Pratt, spokesman for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. He described the worker as “a Japanese associate on assignment.”

“We understand, sir. This will be taken care of, no problem.  Have a nice day and drive safely.”

Shorter State Government of Alabama: “Dammit, this was supposed to just harass poor Mexicans, what the hell were we thinking?

Notice how quickly enforcement ratcheted down once Detlev Hager got caught up in it?  They didn’t even arrest the guy from Japan!  That these stops are considered such embarrassments despite adhering to the letter of the law, based entirely on who just happened to drive into that spider web, shows the racial and class-based assumptions behind even passing the law in the first place: people with ties to the (now inaccurately named due to domestic production) import car industry that has bloomed in Alabama and other southern states largely because of their comparative success in crushing labor organization and offering big fat subsidies — a practice with deep and ironic roots in New Deal era Managerialism — are Not Intended Targets.  The German executive that runs across “papers, please” is a friendly fire incident, meanwhile Hispanic low-income workers…eh, who needs them?

The proper reason to reconsider such laws is the erasure of dignity inherent in them, by assuming anyone without papers is some kind of parasite — guilty until proven innocent.  Provided you are not violating the liberty of another person, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to care why you are here or where you’re going, period.  Instead, Alabama is blushing because the legislation they aimed at these…

…misfired and hit Important People.

They even fail at realizing they failed.

(* – speaking of which: the bigoted corporate tool that authored that bill was recently recalled.  So much for pandering, huh?)


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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