bschaller at ltoa dot com
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Can I See Your Papers Please...

Last week the Department of Homeland Security conducted sweeps in Portland, Maine looking for illegal immigrants. It arrested 10 people and harassed countless others. After going through a local social outreach shelter they set up shop outside of a Mexican grocery and asked everyone who exited for their citizenship or immigration papers. This caused a panic in the Latino community in Portland and caused many legal Latino citizens not to leave their houses and not even send their children to school. Last Saturday people gathered in the streets to protest these actions. Even the mayor of Portland was appalled. I was pretty sure that one of the benefits of being in this country was that you could move around freely without being asked for your "papers". This is a practice that was common in fascist countries like World War II Germany, Spain, and Italy. Something tells me that this is not making our country inherently safer. I think it is important that we do not tolerate this kind of activity. We must not desensitize ourselves to such acts. Anyone who is in the United States legally should be free from fear of harassment about their legitimacy. This seems to me like just another in a long line of infringements by the Department of Homeland Security. I understand the need to improve safety but if the choice is between safety and freedom, I'll always choose freedom. Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me Death". New Hampshire's state motto is "Live Free or Die!". Have we as Americans become so comfortable and so afraid that we are willing to cash in liberty at the first sign of possible harm? That's not what being American means to me. What do you think? B.

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