This blog post is not just your ordinary blog post – instead, this blog post is a warning if you have already read the news about Arizona enacting sweeping legislation to control your freedom of movement within that state. If Arizona's newly enacted law passes constitutional muster, it has the potential to have a profound impact on civil liberties in America as we know it today. If you are a concerned American who values and cherishes your civil liberties, I urge you to please read this blog entry word for word.
Remember back in January of 2010 when the standards for getting and/or renewing a Florida driver's license got tougher? You can thank the federal REAL ID law for this, as its main purpose is nothing more than turning our driver's licenses into de facto national identity cards.
Now we have a situation which fits the phrase, "your papers please". If you have heard in the news lately Arizona just passed a new law which gives their state and local police broad, yet sweeping powers to arrest anyone who thinks that they may be in the USA illegally. Furthermore, their new law makes it illegal to go out and about without your identity papers.
Does this sound scary? I'm sorry, folks, but the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is slowly giving way to the Land of the Oppressed and the Home of the Afraid. Should Arizona's newly passed law aimed at curbing illegal immigration pass constitutional muster this is going to set the stage for life in a country where your freedom of movement is now being restricted.
Want proof? Want the facts?
Virtually in every European country their citizens and permanent residents are required to carry a wallet sized card – similar to an American driver's license – which is called a National Identity Card. Carriage of these cards is not an option – instead, it is the law in Europe depending on the country you are in. Now suppose you are stopped by the police just for the sole purpose of checking to see if you have your National Identity Card with you; if in the event you do not have it you will end up being taken into custody by being placed in handcuffs and being taken to the nearest police station and placed in a jail cell while the police check your identity.
Wikipedia has a discussion on national identity card policies by country. Even much better, Andrew Dart (akdart.com) has a well written page on The Proposed National ID Card as well with links to more information you should know.
So, if Arizona's newly passed law does pass constitutional muster this is what we are going to see, if Florida ever passes a law like Arizona's:
OK. You are at a Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field enjoying a baseball game against your favorite baseball team and you are having the time of your life. You splurged a little bit to sit in the 200 Press Level area.
During the top of the fifth inning, you get out of your seat to go grab something to eat at the Grand Slam Grill which is not too far from where you sit. As soon as you approach the Grand Slam Grill, two people – a Rays security guard and a St. Petersburg Police officer – tap on your shoulder and motion you over to the small table area next to the Grand Slam Grill. With the Rays security guard as a witness, the St. Petersburg Police officer asks you for identification.
What? Identification? You did not do anything to attract the attention of Rays security and St. Petersburg Police in the very first place!
In response to the police officer's request for identification, you left it behind in your vehicle and you respectfully tell the officer accordingly. You offer to go and retrieve your identification.
With the Rays security guard watching, the St. Petersburg Police officer places you under arrest. That's right, under arrest. Handcuffs are slapped on behind your back and you are escorted down an elevator from the 200 level to an undisclosed location somewhere in Tropicana Field.
While you are in that office, shackled to a fixed object by handcuffs, you are detained for a few hours while the police officer checks your identity. The wait is intense that you end up missing the entire game.
A few hours later, the police officer has ascertained your identity and you breathe a sigh of relief. Not so.
Not only you have missed the remainder of the game, there was a secret discussion behind closed doors between the Rays security guard and the St. Petersburg Police officer while you were shackled in handcuffs. As a result, the Rays security guard decides that you are unwanted and orders the police officer to brand you a second class citizen by giving you a trespass warning banning you from Tropicana Field, potentially for life. To add further insult to injury, you are asked to give your personal information just like if you are being booked at the Pinellas County Jail and then you are escorted out of Tropicana Field in handcuffs and the handcuffs come off once you are at your vehicle.
Did I mention trespass warnings here? Florida law allows anyone in authority – including a store manager or a security guard – to have you banned for life and neither reason nor rationale is needed. Trespass warnings are convictions for trespassing without due process and trial. If you have not already, please see my white paper on Florida's trespassing laws over at EdwardRingwald.com.
In the scenario that I just presented, this is something that can happen if a law similar to what was passed in Arizona is allowed to be passed here in Florida. This is something that can happen in a police state, especially if you are overseas and the country you are in requires mandatory National Identity Cards. After all, this is America and we cannot let this happen!
Now let's change gears here.
What Arizona is doing is completely against the Constitution of the United States. Specifically, the Tenth Amendment spells the powers not given to the United States Government to either the fifty individual states or the people:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Immigration law and its enforcement is the responsibility of the United States Government as a sovereign nation. Every sovereign nation in the world – including Canada, Mexico, Germany and even Slovenia – has laws written in its books governing who may enter and for how long people may stay, as well as laws pertaining to people wanting to take up residence on a permanent basis within their borders.
The United States of America is divided up into fifty individual states – Arizona, California and Florida as examples.
Within the framework of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, there are powers that the State of Florida has such as the following:
Providing for education through a system of public schools, colleges and universities
Giving Florida's 67 counties the power to collect property taxes
Providing for a criminal code which meets constitutional muster, both the United States and Florida
Providing for the issuance of driver's licenses and motor vehicle license plates
Providing for the construction and maintenance of Florida's highway system including a network of Interstate highways such as Interstate 275, United States highways such as US 19, and state roads such as FL 687 (which is known as 4 St N in St. Petersburg)
Providing for a family law code which addresses family, probate and guardianship matters
Providing to foster a uniform system of business and commerce by appropriate legislation
Providing for a uniform motor vehicle code which address what you may and may not do on the roads
Now an American state such as Florida cannot have the following powers, as these powers are exclusively reserved to the United States Government:
Matters related to immigration
Matters related to our national currency (states are not allowed to print their own money)
Matters related to the movement of mail
After all, when you cross an international border you cannot cross it just anywhere you please. You can only cross an international border at a designated crossing point. When you approach an international border such as coming from the United States to Canada you are legally obligated to stop at the designated checkpoint and report for immigration and customs clearance. On the other hand, when you cross an American state line such as when you head south on Interstate 75 from Georgia into Florida you do not have to stop unless you want to stop at the welcome center on either side of the state line. In fact, you are allowed to cross an American state line anywhere you please, no official permission is required.
However, American states are allowed to have these so-called "agricultural inspection stations" at their borders but they must be for the sole purpose of enforcing state law related to what you are allowed to bring in as far as agricultural items are concerned. For instance, if you take a road trip out to California by way of Interstate 10 to Los Angeles or Interstate 8 to San Diego you will encounter two of these agricultural checks: One in Arizona on Interstate 10 when you cross over from New Mexico and another in California when you cross over from Arizona from Yuma (Interstate 8) or Blythe (Interstate 10). Besides, every American state has the right to control what agricultural products may be brought across their borders.
In the same vain American states are not allowed to set up checkpoints at their borders for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws. Immigration matters are the responsibility of the United States government and are not for the fifty individual states to enforce.
What I can say as an American – and as a Floridian – is this:
If the State of Arizona wants to control the movement of persons within their state and at the same time require persons to carry identification and allow law enforcement to stop anyone for the sole purpose of identity checks, it ought to consider doing what no American state did since the end of the American Civil War: Secession from the United States of America and let the State of Arizona become a sovereign nation.
Secession from the United States of America? Wait a minute.
First and foremost, let me type out the words of the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America; and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Emphasis added)
Notice that I highlighted the word indivisible. That means that America cannot be broken into fifty individual nations. However, the Pledge of Allegiance was written into its current form in 1956 when President Eisenhower (the father of the Interstate Highway System) added the words "under God" to the Pledge. The original Pledge of Allegiance – with the word indivisible already written in – was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. But did you know that there is a Tampa connection to the Pledge of Allegiance? Francis Bellamy lived in Tampa from 1924 until his death in 1931. Today there is an elementary school in Tampa named after the author of the Pledge of Allegiance and a road named after Bellamy in the northwest part of Tampa which is east of the Veterans Expressway (FL Toll 589) on Ehrlich Road.
But in this day and age with Arizona passing its unpopular immigration law and with health care reform being met with plenty of backlash from Republicans (even the State of Florida is trying to sue the United States Government over the recently enacted health care reform law which is going to cost you, Mr. and Mrs. Florida Taxpayer, plenty of money), the word indivisible in the Pledge of Allegiance these days does not matter.
Now what's going to happen if Arizona decides to secede from the Union? Will other states like Florida follow suit? Will the Pledge of Allegiance vanish into thin air?
I'll let you decide. (Just keep your replies clean as replies are moderated – any offensive and/or negative comments (such as a comment that someone wrote in reply to a Bay News 9 viewer center post I made recently – I won't tell you who wrote that comment nor what was said) will not be posted).