The 14th Amendment is Going to Cage Us All

With all of the hullabaloo about Arizona these days over SB1070 and racial profiling, one should not be surprised when the government humbly capitulates to the will of the people, vows not to discriminate, and instead begins asking everyone for their papers in the form of national biometric identification cards. My experiences as a part of the Arizonan coalition against this bill have been especially interesting and have seen Americans divided and conquered by the political elite once again.

I go to school at Arizona State University in Tempe, which is a few miles east of central Phoenix. A sizable handful of libertarians including myself have been very active in the protests against SB1070 at the state capitol and elsewhere. In my observations, there have been very few non-Latinos who care enough about the bill’s passing to show up in protest. By virtue of our being present, us mostly white libertarians were racially profiled and asked many sincere questions by Latino individuals regarding who we were and why we cared about the bill’s passing, as we would not be directly impacted or negatively profiled.

We outlined the nonaggression principle for those we spoke to and summarized the idea that as long as one is being peaceful one should be left alone. We stated that it doesn’t matter what color, ethnicity, region of origin, or any other secondary characteristic one possesses, but that purely by being nonaggressive, individuals should be free to make choices for themselves on where to live and who to voluntarily associate with. We handed out thousands of fliers on this message and generally received a very pleasant welcome.

It was not all lovely and earnest welcoming though. I flew my Free State Project Gadsden flag and occasionally donned a Guy Fawkes mask, which created a mixture of genuine intrigue and warrantless scorn. Many people assumed I was there in support of SB1070 because protestors who supported restrictive immigration policies showed up with Gadsden flags earlier in the week to demonstrate before loud crowds with megaphones scared them off to the indictment of “white supremacist!”

One lady called me a teabagger, and one gentleman told me to go fuck myself. I kindly alerted him that I was there in opposition to the bill, to which he replied, “Oh, let me grab a flier then!”

This really bummed me out. Any individual who flies a Gadsden flag against peaceful immigration and freedom of movement is so terribly confused that it breaks my heart. It is the equivalent of flying a black flag for statism. What else could “Don’t Tread on Me” mean besides “I want to be left in peace?” The deradicalization of this flag as symbolized by its vulgar use in the Tea Party Movement (when not flown by principled libertarians who sporadically pepper the Tea Parties) means another radical symbol has been moderated; another element in the language of revolution has come to stand for blasé reformism and some vague idea of what a ‘just’ government should be.

Personal Gadsden-flying experience aside, the great bulk of the rhetoric opposing this bill at the rallies and through the media has come to focus on racialized enforcement of the law and racial profiling. Despite reassurances from SB1070 sponsor and state senator from Mesa Russell Pearce that “Illegal is not a race, it is a crime,” law enforcement is given quite a long reach to determine what is reasonable suspicion of being in the country illegally. This will realistically mean that day laborers soliciting their agorist services, individuals speaking Spanish in public in an English speaking country, and eating at Filiberto’s could be construed as reasonable suspicion of undocumented immigration status. Brown individuals in Arizona have already been detained and arrested for not having proof of their citizenship while ‘in’ the country. My friend was asked for his documents while out drinking at Tempe’s local hot spot Mill Avenue by a cop on a Segway in a goofy but intimidating display of force.

This racialized enforcement will be short-lived however. By focusing on the racial profiling aspects of this bill, activists neglect to address the fact that in its benevolent spirit of fairness the state will agree to treat us all as equals under the 14th Amendment and will soon be arbitrarily asking for the documents of all citizens. Yes, the old familiar libertarian fear of “Papers, please,” will soon be coming to Arizona.

Obsessing over racial profiling is a good way to scare up support. A solid chunk of Americans instinctively recoil from what is presented as a racist policy and oppose it on those words alone, but this is but one small nibble of the immigration chimichanga. This focus obscures larger menaces that loom ahead.

I am far from the first to note that the state created an immigration problem through the welfare state. When Arizona utilized its 10th Amendment rights to enforce immigration restrictions to protect their racket from becoming overburdened, the country at large responded in outrage. Democrats in full Hegelian majesty are now swooping in to save the country and undocumented immigrants through biometric national ID cards and equal enforcement of mandatory identification statutes in accordance with the 14th Amendment. The ability to remain anonymous in what is still a relatively open society is drying up. Aw, shucks. Look at the feds protecting our privacy and well-being. Their concern is really quite touching.

This being primarily a racial issue illustrates the ways in which the debate has been framed to exclude from public discourse the sovereign nature of the individual, the downfall of welfare statism, and the irrationality of closed border policies. Without tackling these core problems, repealing SB1070 will be just another example of politics as rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

If you are an activist regarding this issue, please join me in attempting to steer the debate away from the focus on racialized enforcement and to rally people against closed border policies and statist invasions of privacy. Otherwise the 14th Amendment is going to back us straight up against the fence of the equal opportunity cattle yard.

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