Non-Economic Question of the Day: Should I Take My (US) Passport If I Visit Arizona?

Reading this factsheet pertaining to SB 1070, I think the answer is yes.

Under item (1) under the “Enforcement” section:

Requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.

As I say, I think the answer to my question is “yes”, but I welcome hearing people’s (preferably informed) opinion.


Update, 5:30pm Pacific: Here are some links to assessments of the business impact on tourism to Arizona: Reuters, CNN, USA Today. Not exactly tourism: SF Chronicle.

What’s the macro impact of a sustained reduction in tourism? Here are some Arizona Office of Tourism statistics for 2008:



  • Direct travel expenditures by all visitors
    to Arizona decreased –3.1 percent to
    $18.5 billion in 2008.
  • Direct travel spending in Arizona generated
    $1.4 billion in local and state tax
    revenues and $1.2 billion in federal tax
    revenues during 2008.
  • Travel spending in Arizona generated a
    direct impact of 166,900 jobs with earnings
    of $5.0 billion in 2008.


I’m not sure how the last number was calculated, but I think the first two numbers are interesting. 2008 Arizona state GDP was $248.9 billion. Hence, direct expenditures expressed as a ratio to state GDP was 7.4%. If the tourism multiplier is about 1.4, this implies if tourism were to halve, then output would be about 5.2% lower than it would otherwise.


58 thoughts on “Non-Economic Question of the Day: Should I Take My (US) Passport If I Visit Arizona?

  1. Nemesis

    One should always carry a passport and Spanish-English dictionary when traveling to CA, AZ, NV, NM, and most of TX, and increasingly CO, the Pacific NW, and mid-Mississippi and Missouri River valleys.
    [deleted for content]
    If legal and illegal US immigration patterns persist, the southern tier of the US will become a Third World border (and drug lords’ war) zone increasingly populated by Mexicans, El Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Cubuanos.
    It remains to be seen what the growing Latino populations in the SW and Mexico will do as the US economy continues to decline; Mexico’s Cantarell oil field plays out; money stops flowing from the US to Mexico; drug lord violence continues to escalate; the Mexican state fails; the 400-year drought in the Southwest and CA persists; and the white non-Latino populations migrate en masse from the region to the hinterlands in the decades ahead.
    North America will continue to look increasingly like a double or triple non-premium capuccino (in a paper cup, not porcelain). But the foamy white top tends to retain the hot coffee below for a while but eventually goes flat and disappears long before the rest of the cup’s contents.

  2. Cedric Regula

    Menzie “As I say, I think the answer to my question is “yes”, but I welcome hearing people’s (preferably informed) opinion.”
    That would be me! “Yes” is the correct answer! At least if you are driving from CA. There is a customs check point on the CA-AZ border. The officer will ask what city you are coming from and what city are you going to. Answer any city in CA and AZ. Passport is not required, but they may ask for “ID”. Problem is they are easy to fake, even CA DMV employees were selling phony driver’s licenses out the back door, and the customs official may not be comfortable with a Wisconsin drivers license. They can also impound your car for a search if they desire, and having ID or passport may or may not help in that case. So try and not look like a drug dealer.

  3. Jack

    The new Arizona immigration law contains a provision that is supposed to prevent Arizona from EVER participating in the REAL ID act.

  4. Cedric Regula

    Part of the problem for any states in the Greater Mexico Metropolitan Area is that local politics believe (and this is taught in some of our K12 schools as well) is that the King of Spain once owned this region (but not rightfully so) and Zorro liberated it for the “peoples”.
    Nothing else matters.

  5. W.C. Varones

    Yeah, I’m sure if you tell them in fluent English that you’re a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, they’ll lock you up and deport you.
    Hysterical hypotheticals don’t improve the debate.

  6. martin

    CUSTOMS???? On the California/arizona boarder?
    Give me a freakin’ break!!!!
    On the California side you pass through an “agricultural inspection” all vehicles must stop. They ask where you have been and where you are going. They have done this since the 60′s.
    The reason for this is California is the major grower of our fruits and vegetables. They don’t want fruit and vegetables that come from other states that may have been imported from abroad. Foreign fruit and vegetables can bring unwanted pests, the Mediterranean Fruit Fly is a perfect example.
    The U.S. Border Patrol has various stops on interstates and highways within 100 miles of the u.s. boarder, including between ca and az. These people are looking for illegals and if you speak with an accent you better have identification. State Drivers Licenses are FINE. If you are a foreigner without local identification you should carry your passport just as an American traveling in Europe should carry a passport.
    As far as the local police in Az., don’t believe the fear mongering. If you are pulled over you don’t have to PROVE your citizenship. On the other hand, if you are stopped for speeding, have no U.S. ID of any type and don’t speak a lick of English, YOU MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM.
    I was in an accident with an illegal in Az 6 years ago. They ran a red light and my car was totaled. The police were called and they were given a citation and went on their way while I was screwed. Under the laws today they would have gotten a citation, arrested and sent back where they belong.
    This law does give rise to the possibility of abuse by holier than thou Police Officers but it is not the intent of the law. The law is bad but make no mistake it is in direct response to the Federal Governments abandonment of our borders, which are sieves.
    What must Ca. and Az. do to get Washington’s attention?
    We all know Washington wants the illegals to flow because they come here and drive down wages for business and produce babies, babies that will one day be working u.s. citizens which will take care of the demographic problem of the retiring Baby Boom.
    It’s a mess….but that is the way things always are.

  7. Cedric Regula

    Ok, it was probably border patrol. Not sure how you tell the difference anyway. They all look the same. It was on I-8 which may be within 100 miles of the border, but it was a fixed installation, not a temporary roadblock. I remember the Ag stops too but I think those are elsewhere.
    Besides government support for small biz thru providing cheap labor (not sure if that’s a predominantly Rep or Dem thing) the Dems think they will make fine Dem voters someday (as soon as Obama gets around to signing an amnesty bill), and chances are they are related to legal Dem voters now, so a little butt kissing is erring on the side of prudence. Plus we get all the babies. They are US citizens at birth and the Mexican government swears by it.

  8. IF

    Not the first time that I post this. Thanksgiving 2008 we visited Organ Pipes NM on the border to Mexico in Arizona. We drove from Tucson west on 86. As we entered the Tohono O’Odham Indian reservation there was a road block checking cars leaving. When we left on 85 going north past Ajo there was another roadblock, checking every car. It was night, but the federales had strong mobile lights. Not sure if they had badgers.
    Officer: Are you US citizen?
    Me: No.
    Officer: Are you US citizen?
    Me: No.
    Officer: Do you understand me? Are you US citizen?
    Me: No.
    Officer: Where are you coming from?
    Me: Organ pipes NM.
    Officer: No, where are you from?
    Me: Bay area, California.
    Officer: No, where are you from, which country?
    Me: Germany.
    Long story short, our CA driving licenses were taken after radio communication and a half hour wait. But we were threatened repeatedly with deportation, as we did not carry the green cards at all times as seems to be required. Personally, I think the national ID is coming to my American friends.
    Finally, this story leaves as an open question what would have happened if a foreigner had answered “yes” to the first question. The new law must be making things much better to the local sheriffs, if not to the federales.

  9. Joseph

    martin: What must Ca. and Az. do to get Washington’s attention?
    You might start in Arizona where Senators McCain and Kyl, who were sponsors of the 2007 Immigration Reform Bill voted against their own bill along with 100% of the rest of the Republicans.

  10. Brian Quinn

    I think it is frightening to think what some overzealous, bigoted local law enforcement official might do in this regard. I would say bring as much identification as you can, though I suspect that this law will be struck down at some point in the future.
    You linked to some virulent anti-immigrant site that attempts to pass itself off as respectable. Frankly, I have very rarely seen a respectable anti-immigration argument that did not have at least questionable motivations. Indeed, much of the Arizona immigration law debate was motivated by out and out bigotry.

  11. Brad P.

    I am wondering how a any person “belongs” somewhere, but that, I suppose, is for another discussion.
    If I do know anything about cops, though, it is that they will error on the side of screwing your day up. So regardless of what protections the law may intend to provide, I would carry identification or plan on becoming an example.

  12. Cedric Regula

    “I am wondering how a any person “belongs” somewhere”
    Home is where you pay your taxes.

  13. tj

    “during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision”
    This is no different than the age discrimination that occurs every time I try to buy alcohol at the the grocery store in my state. New Law requires the clerk to check the I.D. of every customer who looks less than 50 years of age. It’s an OUTRAGE I tell you! Where is AARP? Where is the Civil Liberties Union?
    The states are out of control! The Federal government gave us the right to drink but now the states are changing drinking ages and enforcing their own laws! It’s anarchy!
    Menzie, if you plan on getting stopped for speeding, plan to get an AZ drivers license, plan to apply for some community or state assistance, etc, then you need to show proof that you are legally in the U.S. I don’t see a problem. The police are not going to stop you for looking illegal. But, if they stop you for a traffic violation then they have every right to ask you to prove you are a U.S. citizen, which should not be too difficult, (unless you aren’t).
    Why should anyone object to making it more difficult to identify lawbreakers? I travel to AZ frequently and will gladly offer proof I am a U.S. citizen if it helps get illegals out of the country. At the same time, we should make it easier for immigrants who want to go through the proper channels to enter the U.S. and becomoe legal residents. AS legal residents, business owners will not be able treat them as slave labor.

  14. gowon

    This is a ridiculous question because what sane person would set foot in that geriatric basket-case failed state?

  15. kjmclark

    “This is a ridiculous question because what sane person would set foot in that geriatric basket-case failed state?”
    The Grand Canyon is in Arizona. It’s on our list of places to take the kids at some point. The park service says nearly five million people visit each year. I kind of doubt they’ll be checking all of them for passports, though.

  16. Tom

    Actually, this is very much an economic question. The purpose of immigration law is to maintain the gap in value between the ins (citizens plus legal residents) and the outs (illegally employed foreigners and those considering it). In other words, if there were no US immigration restrictions on Mexicans, immigration would proceed until the wage gap between Americans and Mexicans with equivalent relevant skills disappeared.
    This is why tighter immigration laws are usually popular. And even from an ecnomics perspective, excessive immigration is undoubtedly damaging to origin and destination countries.
    The problem the US has though is that its politicians love to take the ineffective, populist road, which is to punish the little guy immigrants, rather than the effective but politically difficult road, which is to punish those who employ them. The goal should be to raise the risk-weighted price of employing illegal aliens until it becomes more expensive than employing legal residents. To randomly punish a small percentage of illegal aliens without doing anything to cut the supply of work available to those who are lucky enough not to get caught is just plain stupid and mean.

  17. kharris

    In response to the question asked, rather than any of the provocations offered in response, the law as advertised tells officers to pick their victims on grounds other than looks. The first thing that comes to mind is language. Assuming officers follow the law, they will listen for languages other than English being spoken. Assuming they actually want to be active in seeking out illegals, they will spend time at building sites, restaurants, landscaping firms and casual labor pick-up points.
    The odds of being questioned about one’s nationality if one speaks domestically accented English, avoids being on the laboring end of businesses that commonly hire immigrant labor and avoid corners where numbers of casual laborers wait for work, odds are you won’t need a passport.
    It is also worth noting that the criminalization of status probably raises the value of a US passport, and that there may be strong variation in the value of a passport between regions, depending on treatment of illegals. Maybe you should photocopy your passport, carry the copy and lock up the real thing up at home, while traveling in Arizona.

  18. Brian Quinn

    Regarding the economics of immigration, generally nearly every objective study I have seen points to large positive effects of immigration for the destination country. I think the experience of the United States bears this out, quite frankly. Granted, certain sectors of the labor market are negatively effected in the short run, but in the aggregate there are gains to society.
    Broadly speaking, any measures that promote the free movement of human capital are positive for all countries.
    I apologize for providing such a brief argument here as the literature on the subject is complex and quite expansive. I do encourage you to go looking through economic analyses of immigration, though.

  19. Joel Gaughan

    Brian Quinn – Thank you. I was going to write something along the same lines as you did, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have said it as well. Freer immigration used to be a conservative position.

  20. GNP

    Menzie: You liberal Americans and your first-come, first-served open-access ideology! It is so funny. Why not put off today what you can try to fix in 1/2 century from now?

    I once worked with Chicanos as a farm-worker community organizer and in the process encountered a few illegals. So here’s some advice from the ‘street’. Chicanos (American citizens) may on occasion carry an enormous chip on their shoulder having endured a long history of being treated like human dirt but they usually look you in the eyes, even if they instinctively resent your 6’5″ frame and blue eyes. (That may not apply to you Menzie.) Illegal Mexican workers do not look you in the eyes. They avert their gaze. Just like the kaffers in the Republic of South Africa during the apartheid regime.

    So if a man in uniform stops you in Arizona, stay calm and look him straight in the eyes like a) you belong, and b) you are paying his or her salary. You should do just fine.

  21. Lyle

    If you are concerned you can get a passport card as well as the book (see dept of state web site). This fits nicely in the wallet and works for land borders to Mexico and Canada. Actually as pointed out if you are a PR you are supposed to carry the green card at all time, just like men used to have to carry the draft card at all times. Basically it amounts to having US id if driving.
    For citizens it makes sense to get a Passport book anyway as it is undoubtedly the best form of ID, and when Real ID comes takes care of your Identity and right to remain in the country in one fell swoop.

  22. rootless cosmopolitan

    “But the foamy white top tends to retain the hot coffee below for a while but eventually goes flat and disappears long before the rest of the cup’s contents.”
    Well, I assume you count yourself to the “foamy white top”. May come true what you say. I won’t miss you, or any of your white supremacist comrades.

  23. purple

    Highly educated Asians (with or without accents) are not the target here, and pretending otherwise is a bit silly. Living in the Bay Area, I’ve heard Asians rail about illegal immigration more than anyone else – certainly in regards to schools. It’s a bit strange, but does point to some class issues at play in the immigration ‘reform’ debate.

  24. cheezedawg

    This new law in AZ did not give AZ state law enforcement any authority that the Federal government didn’t already have to enforce immigration laws. Everything in the AZ law specifically references Federal law.
    There is no need to fear monger about this- the Feds can already do in all 50 states everything that AZ state police will soon be able to do in AZ. If you are worried that you need to bring a passport with you in AZ, then you should already be worried about bringing it with you at home (which, of course, illustrates the absurdity of this fear mongering).

  25. Dinesh

    Depends on whether your passport is still valid, also depends on other things like, how heavy is your passport, do you have space in your luggage.
    Is this answer equally non economic? reply me back.

  26. Markel

    Contrary to some of the ignorant or intentionally misleading information above, the law does not provide for ID on demand only if you are stopped for speeding, get arrested, or have some other business with the state government. All that is required is that an officer chooses to demand your ID. Papieren, bitte.

  27. GNP

    purple: I highly doubt Menzie is worried about himself or other Americans of Asian descent living in Arizona. You need to spend more time with American Liberals.

    I strongly disagree with you that this is a class issue. Class analysis acts too often as a boat anchor on the have nots. Witness how Neo-marxist analysis such as Dependency theory delayed development by decades in many regions of Latin America and Africa. Look carefully at how Mexico has mismanaged its petroleum sector. Mexico and other Latin American countries are producing young unskilled workers faster than their economies can absorb them. On the other side of this issue, middle-class and affluent Americans of humble origins think it is a status symbol to have domestics folding their laundry.

    And for the record, my advice about gazing straight into the uniformed officer’s eyes would also work for members of La Raza. Most illegals cannot help themselves, they cannot lie; they are believing and practicing Catholics, which is ironically enough, the primary reason why this problem is occuring in the first place.

  28. mike

    Now’s the time for Arizona to push for the real ID law, whereby all Americans are required to obtain a federally-issued photo ID card with appropriate biometric information. Just to make sure whiter-looking people aren’t illegals from Russia or Ukraine or Germany.

  29. WBS

    The unavoidable problem with any law requiring a sub-group to show certain documentation or suffer ill consequences is that as a practical matter such a law requires everyone to show such documentation. It would not be surprising if AZ officials made a deliberate practice of demanding documentation of legal presence from at least a random sample of people who don’t “look Mexican,” simply to avoid being charged with profiling.
    So what is the documentation required? The new law requires a state or local official who has an official contact with a person reasonably believed to be unlawfully present in the US to verify that person’s immigration status. The text of the law provides only this guidance in making that determination:
    The first 3 categories are irrelevant to out of staters and non-Indians, so for most of us it’s only the 4th that is at issue. Whether, under that provision, a non-AZ drivers license is (at least presumptively ) sufficient depends on whether the issuing state requires proof of legal residence. I assume the Real ID law would require such proof, but it has not yet fully come into effect. What else would come within the 4th category? Military ID would apparently be OK, because you can’t be in the military without proper immigration status. So would a US passport — and, one would assume, a birth certificate showing birth in the US (unless, of course, you are the 44th President of the United States).
    Confusingly for non-permanent resident aliens legally in the US, the law does not say explicitly that it is sufficient to show a foreign passport with a valid visa (the foreign passport is not issued by the USG and while the visa is issued by the USG, it is not “identification”). It is not entirely clear even that a green card (which is not self-evidently a form of “identification”) will do. (Of course, the State can presumably add to the set of acceptable documentation, but is not required to and hasn’t so far as appears.)
    So the prudent course for a US citizen from outside the state would be to carry a passport (not clear if a copy will do) or a birth certificate. Legal aliens will have to take the risk of relying on a visa-ed passport or a green card.

  30. Nemesis

    There are too many of us Homo sapiens on the planet, so all colors of humans are on the path to disappearing, so you have much about which to be pleased.
    BTW, most humans of various shades of one color or another perceive themselves or their self-selected group as superior; it’s an evolutionary adaptation.
    Also, one of the misanthrope’s mottos: Do your part for the extinction of the human species and leave no one behind to mourn your death.

  31. jonathan

    Why not refuse to answer, which is your right as a citizen since you have not committed a crime, and then you can become a test case for Constitutionality.

  32. Wisdom Speaker

    I just want to point out that Menzie’s anxieties are further justified when one considers that the differences in appearance between many Asians and some Mexicans of Native American heritage, are not that great.
    I worry about the unintended consequences of having large numbers of passports circulating in daily life, instead of remaining in safe locations. Losing a passport becomes a much bigger deal, if one can be summarily tossed in jail and deported without it. And the circulation of lost passports with falsified identities???

  33. rootless cosmopolitan

    “There are too many of us Homo sapiens on the planet, so all colors of humans are on the path to disappearing, so you have much about which to be pleased.”
    This is your view, not mine. You just project your view onto me.
    “BTW, most humans of various shades of one color or another perceive themselves or their self-selected group as superior; it’s an evolutionary adaptation.”
    That this was the natural order of things is just an old lie, with which racists have always justified their ideology.
    “Also, one of the misanthrope’s mottos: Do your part for the extinction of the human species and leave no one behind to mourn your death.”
    I am not the one who believes there were “too many” people on this planet. Nor I am the one who has problems with “Mexicans, El Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Cubuanos” living in the United States, or anywhere else as a matter of fact, whether with legal papers or illegalized.

  34. Nemesis

    Your naivete is charming. I’m glad there are idealists like you; it gives humankind at least small odds of surviving in some form, perhaps will 1 billion or fewer of us and in isolated tribal communities with limited competition and resource consumption.
    But spend some time in China, the LA hood, Wall St., Mecca, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, Sicily, Istanbul, or parts of Columbia (lots of examples) and tell me you don’t experience the palpable self-superiority all around.
    And, yes, why have national borders? Why gov’t at all? Anarcho-Primitivism? Why not?

  35. pwyll

    Menzie, your hyperventilation conceals a vicious lack of empathy for the poor Americans who bear the brunt of the numerous negative externalities (crime, local govt. cost, corrosion of societal trust) that illegal immigrants bring with them. The fashionable opinions you’ve chosen have real consequences, and while they mainly cause misery for other people right now, given enough time the ugliness will start affecting you too. Please stop making the world a worse place.

  36. rootless cosmopolitan

    “Your naivete is charming.”
    Rejecting your anti-immigration propaganda and the lies you use to justify it, but which aren’t based on facts and knowledge, only on prejudice and your petty self-interest, has nothing to do with naivete.
    “I’m glad there are idealists like you; it gives humankind at least small odds of surviving in some form, perhaps will 1 billion or fewer of us and in isolated tribal communities with limited competition and resource consumption.”
    Lack of resources or technological potential isn’t the problem in the modern world economy. Resources are plenty and the technological basis has been developed enough that it would be possible to serve the needs of all humans.
    “But spend some time in China, the LA hood, Wall St., Mecca, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, Sicily, Istanbul, or parts of Columbia (lots of examples) and tell me you don’t experience the palpable self-superiority all around.”
    There are certainly many conflicts in the world, and arguments of alleged superiority of “ethnie”, “race”, or “culture” are often used as justification. It probably will become worse in the next decades, since capitalist economy tends to increase inequalities. But nothing of this actually proves your assertion that “ethnic supremacist” thinking or similar racist pathologies were “evolutionary” determined. They are still the result of social conditioning and indoctrination and social practice.
    “And, yes, why have national borders? Why gov’t at all?”
    Why is the world divided by countries, or “nations”? Work through the history of capitalism and you will find out.
    BTW: Being an immigrant myself, I wouldn’t know why I shouldn’t side with the immigrant view and interests here.
    May I ask where you live?

  37. rootless cosmopolitan

    “Menzie, your hyperventilation conceals a vicious lack of empathy for the poor Americans who bear the brunt of the numerous negative externalities (crime, local govt. cost, corrosion of societal trust) that illegal immigrants bring with them…given enough time the ugliness will start affecting you too”
    The usual anti-immigrant propaganda and fear mongering using the myth that immigrants are causing the symptoms of economic and social misery in capitalism. And if you think the illegality is the problem, then give the now illegalized immigrants a legal status.
    Your charge against Menzie actually presumes that “poor Americans” have a higher value than any have-nots immigrating from other countries to US. And the charge could be turned against you that you lack empathy for the poor immigrants, and the thousands who have died at the borders of the United States (the same at the European outer borders), although these immigrants mostly don’t want to claim more than what you think is your natural right.
    Isn’t the playing of the interests of poor Americans against the interests of poor non-Americans the usual divide et impera to prevent people from asking the real questions, anyway?

  38. mulp

    One might note the great USA was built by immigrants.
    Or one might note Arizona is part of the USA because of illegal immigrants.
    Mexico sent Santa Anna to boot out the illegals.
    The resulted in a war.
    If Bush was going to finish an unfinished war, he should have demanded Mexico surrender or else. Then completed the job left unfinished on 2 February 1848, and annexed the other half of Mexico.

  39. JBH

    bstabler: Right on. Hispanics who come here illegally to better the material circumstances of their lives would hardly want to become Republicans.

  40. colonelmoore

    Since the 1940s, federal law has required non-citizens who are in the United States permanently to carry on their person, at all times, the official documents proving that they are here legally — green card, work visa, etc.
    If US citizen Prof. Chinn believes that his characteristics might make him susceptible to challenge by the police in AZ, he should by all means bring the passport. People take extra precautions for unpredictable outcomes when traveling, such as money belts, travelers’ checks, etc.
    How the police will handle the AZ law is at this point unknown. If his fears of profiling are justified, why not be safe rather than sorry. Civil rights lawsuits will curb any police excesses over time.

  41. Menzie Chinn

    colonelmoore: Your faith in the efficacy of lawsuits is refreshing! By the way, how long did it take to remove Jim Crow laws in the South? “over time” is the operative term. But I agree, it is safer to bring the passport.

  42. jlmadsen

    Interesting discussion to find. I am always bouncing between southern CA and Phoenix AZ.
    The new law simply says that law enforcement can ask for ID, drivers licence or other, in a traffic or criminal stop. Why is that so difficult? If you don’t have a driver’s licence (#4-other state’s ID) then you probably shouldn’t be driving. If you are stopped as a pedestrian, then you were probably suspected of committing a crime and have other problems to deal with!
    There doesn’t seem to be much discussion between the diference between legal and illegal immigration. The legal immigrants that I know have gone through a huge amount of effort to be in the US legally, and the ones I’ve asked are very displeased with the illegals working and receiving benifits without the same time and effort.
    Yes, America was built by immigrants. It used to be a melting pot as well, with immigrants learning the language and customs. Not so much a melting pot anymore. I’ve never heard any arguments about shutting down immigration, only about deporting or jailing people who break the law. What a concept!
    The comment aagainst capitalism are especially interesting. If it weren’t for our capitalistic society, why are all these people trying to get in? Maybe because “the land of opportunity” is based in capitalism?
    Thanks all for the interesting read!

  43. rootless cosmopolitan

    “The comment aagainst capitalism are especially interesting.”
    I have the strong suspicion that you refer to my comments here, which you perceive as “comments against capitalism”. My comments weren’t comments “against” capitalism. Instead, I made descriptive statements about capitalism.
    “If it weren’t for our capitalistic society, why are all these people trying to get in?”
    I suppose mostly not based on the thought that they want to live in a “capitalist society”. This they could have anywhere. Instead, they are coming for the expectation of economic opportunities, or to flee poverty, war, political instability, suppression of civil liberties, persecution, ecological disasters. You name it. Shortly, they hope to find a better life in the countries where economic wealth is concentrated and stability is higher.
    “Maybe because “the land of opportunity” is based in capitalism?”
    And what about the rest of the world? The rest of the world isn’t?

  44. colonelmoore

    Prof. Chinn,
    The question is the overall harm. You agree that carrying the passport is the prudent thing to do. If you are stopped by either state or federal law enforcement, show your passport. At most you suffer a few minutes of indignity. How many other instances do people suffer fear and indignity in their lives at the hands of the authorities? How about tax audits? How about the fact that jails charge $3 a minute for collect calls so as to isolate pretrial defendants that can’t afford bail from their family and friends? How about all the folks whose only crime is that they are too poor to afford anything but an public defeender with a caseload of 200 and so are coerced into pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit? I am sure that this happens in Wisconsin on a daily basis.
    There seems to be some special case made for indignity based on ethnic profiling. I am not suggesting that everyone should cheer any abuses, but when the solution is as simple as carrying a passport, why make such a huge deal of this one potential abuse by the authorities?
    I also think that, given the huge number of abuses heaped on poor people every day by the system, that making such a big deal about having to carry a passport in Arizona to avoid potential profiling and comparing oneself to a black in the pre-1965 South is being a tad bit dramatic.

  45. Menzie Chinn

    colonelmoore: Well, I’m against discriminating by income as well as by ethnic background.

    By the same logic you’ve applied, what’s wrong with a small poll tax? Or literacy test for voting, preferably in English as well? Those too could be construed as relatively small indignities.

    By the way, why do you focus on Wisconsin? I’ve lived in six states throughout my life.

  46. Matilde

    Bring the passport. Seriously.
    I was once in a US research lab where an overzealous (and misinformed) security officer rushed in and started shouting that no foreign nationals were allowed in the lab. Just about everyone in the lab was a citizen of another country and most of us had worked in that lab for years.
    Most of us were European – German, French, Swiss, some Aussies. Hearing us explain that several members of the staff were not US citizens, he grabbed the most ‘foreign looking’ person in the group – a Korean American who was a US citizen – and threw him against the wall.

  47. colonelmoore

    Prof. Chinn,
    In Wisconsin or any state, the issues I listed are the same.
    I am not suggesting the law is just any more than I was suggesting that charging $3 for prison phone calls is just. (By the way I actually worked on trying to get them outlawed so we share an interest in economic justice. We also share concerns about police overreaction.)
    I was responding at face value to your question about bringing the passport. Since your real agenda seems to be to elicit and respond to opinions about the law, here is mine:

  48. Cedric Regula

    There is a 99.9% probability that a WI drivers license works ok. But they changed the law that you do now need a passport if you want to cross the border, even on foot, to one of the border towns in Mexico.
    However, some extra paranoia may be justified in your particular case.
    You may not realize this, but many of our cops and border patrol people are Hispanic.
    Now you could scream out “Viva La Zorro” when apprehended for being in public, hoping to gain favor with the arresting officer, but I happen to know some “Hispanic” US citizens who are very much against illegal immigration. So this ploy could in fact make matters worse for you.
    Or you could try the more ethnically believable “I am a builder of railroads, and helped make this country great!”
    But the Asian population in AZ is rather small and this part of American history may have been glossed over in the public school system, and the cop may not understand and just assume that you are crazy, or are some sort of wise guy.
    So I guess it wouldn’t hurt to bring the passport, until we can figure out how to keep our cops from getting confused over this ID thing.
    Also, I thought tourism drops off in recessions?
    P.S. If crossing over to Nogales, keep in mind the police chief of Nogales was gunned down by drug dealers, but you will still need your passport to get back to the US side.

  49. colonelmoore

    Something came up that is relevant to the exchange between me and Professor Chinn:
    Three Houston police officers have been assigned desk duties as city and federal authorities scrutinize the arrest of a local Chinese diplomat who says police hit him in the face during a traffic stop last weekend at the Chinese Consulate.
    As I mentioned above, I share Professor Chinn’s concern about cops overreacting. He responded to my suggestion that he not turn this into a personal drama but merely deal with his own situation in a pragmatic fashion. It was after his response that I understood quite clearly that he was trying to use himself as an example to force people to take stands one way or another on the law, so that he could demonstrate the racist undertone of its supporters.
    I was not willing to take the bait. I believe that the federal government has defaulted on its responsibilities for border protection and protection of people that are born here or come here to work and play by the rules (such as my Asian wife that immigrated legally and eventually gained US citizenship.
    However, I have a strong distrust of law enforcement. Any person should be cautious when dealing with the police, but people of non-European extraction traveling in locales that they are unfamiliar with might want to be extra careful. Anyone that doesn’t assume the worst of cops in a strange city has fortunately lived a sheltered life. My advice would be to bring a passport to Texas too, irrespective of the laws or the attitude of the governor. (“I fully recognize and support a state’s right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas.”)

  50. Cop

    I am a police officer. I am trained and conditioned to approach the public as potential threats to my life and “public safety”. If you don’t, you’re dead! It’s how a public safety officer survives.
    Since a majority of the people here in Arizona who are illegals ARE from south of the US boarder, when I see someone who LOOKS Hispanic AND illegal, there is already activated the first level of self-survival. And what human does not react in this manner — evaluating danger by the known physical stimuli?
    Therefore, the answer is NOT in making cops the bad-guys having to discriminate between a legal from an illegal, but to have the borders secured so illegals cannot come and go as they please.
    And yes, this new law is NOT the total answer but it is the first step in attempting to regain control, safety and security from an out-of-control border.
    You guys can play at your bantering back and forth, but on the streets there is a big problem that is leaving many innocent people dead or hurt, many cops dead, and this needs immediate fixing!
    Mexico is at war with the drug cartels and the police have been replaced with military in order to fight this war — and THESE THUGS are HERE in our neighborhoods, in our homes. Until Mexico has recovered its democracy from these drug-monsters, we must have the tools to protect ourselves! And if we don’t, we will have many more dead cops, dead and/or victimized citizens, and the perfect storm conditions for another terrorist massacre.
    It’s time to get real and examine the bigger problem: if Mexico wasn’t in such a horrible state where criminal-monsters are in control, we wouldn’t be having these discussions (ever heard of Canadian drug cartels mass killings?).

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