I'm getting ready for our trip to explore the Rio Grande Rift. Like the Rift, our route will bisect New Mexico, from north of Santa Fe all the way down to Las Cruces. There will be geologic glories galore, including calderas (volcanic craters), lava frozen in place by millions of years of time, mountains (ditto), and the sparkling water of the Rio Grande itself. This trip will also feature the sophisticated man-made glories of Santa Fe, which will be our home base for a variety of mostly geology-related side trips before we head south.
I'll post a travelogue with photos while we travel, but the rift I want to write about today is the one caused by Arizona's immigration law. For the first time in over fifty years of traveling within the United States, I feel obliged to take my passport.
I am not a fan of "shoot first, ask questions later" type laws. I'd just as soon not visit Arizona or patronize any of its businesses until its state legislature decides to recommit to the principles of democracy. But the only sensible way to drive from Las Vegas to Santa Fe is via Arizona's roads, so out come the documents proving we're U.S. citizens.
It's very strange to think we might need our passports to travel to an adjoining state. I'll be surprised - and horrified - if we actually do need them. But who knows what some over-zealous officer in some middle-of-nowhere Arizona town might conclude based on my curly brown hair and my and my husband's tanned, olive skin? I don't relish the idea of spending part of our vacation being detained, interrogated, confined to a jail cell or deported.
I'm a law-abiding sort, and I do not support illegal immigration. I also do not support racism, racial profiling, intolerance or fear-based legislation that fails to take into account or respect inalienable Constitutional rights. Appearing to be "foreign" or, for that matter, actually being from somewhere other than the United States is not an appropriate basis for being suspect under the law.
The U.S. as we know it has benefited from the contributions of immigrants ever since the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock. Immigration and immigrants aren't the problem - illegal immigration is. Immigration reform is certainly necessary, but ill-thought-out, misguided, and fundamentally un-American responses like Arizona's have no hope of effecting it.