When I go to a hotel or board a plane or see my doctor, I show identification. When I make a credit card purchase, I'm often asked to prove who I am. In a foreign country, I'd expect to yield proof that I'm in that country legally. The waitress at Taco Mac (God bless her soul) asks to see my driver's license before she pours me a beer (may be trolling for tips … but it works).
So excuse me if not expressing outrage over Arizona's new immigration law. My reaction to the volatile law sparking controversy coast to coast is: What's the big deal?
Arizona passed a law that says you have to prove who you are and that you followed the rules to get where you are — fairly basic stuff that I've been required to do my entire adult life.
More specifically, Arizona police can check a person's immigration status if they have stopped that person for some legitimate reason and come to suspect that he or she might be in the United States illegally.
I'll admit the law's not perfect. But something had to be done.
Arizona has become the primary border crossing for illegals entering this country from Mexico. Nearly 500,000 undocumented aliens have settled in the state, contributing to the overcrowding of schools and hospitals and the increase in crime and violence.
George W. Bush saw the need for new immigration law, but after three years of trying threw in the towel. President Barak Obama said it would be addressed early in his administration, but the economy and health care staved off any serious discussion on immigration law.
So without the federal government's guidance, Arizona exercised its constitutional right and addressed the problem itself. With 70-percent Arizonan approval, the law was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Criticism came swiftly:
• The cities of Flagstaff and Tucson have challenged the constitutionality of the law.
• Immigration groups have called for convention and travel boycotts of Arizona.
• The Mexican government is advising citizens to avoid travel to Arizona.
• The Phoenix Suns basketball team wore jerseys that read "Los Suns" in an NBA playoff game versus the San Antonio Spurs.
But surveys show constituents are seeing things differently. The following are bits from a bevy of polls coming from New York Times, Fox News, CBS, Rasmussen, etc.
• 70 percent of Arizonans support the measure.
• Outside Arizona, 51 percent of Americans polled said the Arizona law was "about right."
• 59 percent "favor legislation that authorizes local police to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant."
• 61 percent of American voters think Arizona was right to take action instead of waiting for the federal government to do something.
• However, 57 percent feel the U.S. government — not individual states — should determine immigration law.
The last time immigration policy underwent reform was during the Reagan administration in 1987. A lot has changed in the last two decades.
Charges that the Arizona law will lead to racial profiling are misguided. As pointed out earlier, I'm asked for identification nearly everywhere I go. I realize that if I want to buy something or fly somewhere or drink a beer, I'm going to have to show ID to gain that privilege. Those are the rules.
Showing ID for any law-abiding citizen — immigrant or native-born — is no more burdensome.
J.K. Murphy is the publisher of the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.