Got papers?

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I’ve already figured out how to get out of showing my papeles when a cop pulls me over for my broken taillight. I’ll just say “scissors!” when the officer demands to see my papers. Everyone knows scissors cut paper, so I win! Triumphant, I’ll simply speed off.

If that doesn’t work, no worries. I’ll have a back-up plan for when I get out of the pinta. The next time I get pulled over and la jura asks me if I have my papers, I’m going to ask, “Why? Do you want to get high?” It is my own version of civil disobedience, Cheech and Chong style. I can hear the clink of the handcuffs now.

So, why all these elaborate plans? I’m a legal resident of these United States, after all, and we routinely have to show I.D. when we do all sorts of things in America … why the big fuss?

This is the sentiment of many who support S.B. 1070. They wrongly believe that the vast majority of “legal” Latinos, those born here or those who went through “the system” to become legal residents or even citizens, also support the law set to go into effect at the end of July. You know, that law.

Sure, plenty of Hispanics align themselves with S.B. 1070’s supporters and it’s their prerogative to do so. But to say that all or most Latinos want to ship “illegal scum” or even “Mexican cockroaches” back to Mexico or wherever they came from es una pendejada de grande proportions. Shocked? You should be, but these and other offensive terms used to describe people from across the border can routinely be found in the comments section of azcentral.com and other news sites covering the heated immigration debate.

Oh, all of this reminds me of the breakout speech by then Illinois Senator Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention. He captured the attention of America by loudly championing what makes this country great. He eloquently stated, “It is that fundamental belief – I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper – that makes this country work.”

When someone’s elderly grandmother is pulled over and asked to produce her papers, she is my abuela being pulled over. When someone’s uncle gets pulled over after a long day working construction, he is my tío.

Many Latinos in law enforcement rightfully want to get rid of the bad manzanas in our collective bunch, but when their abuelitas come to them, holding back tears, explaining how they were treated by one of their colleagues, it could be a game changer.

So thank you, Gov. Jan Brewer, for assuming we would sit idly by while members of our community, and sometimes our familias, are rounded up, possibly with citizens caught up in the mix. And thank you for galvanizing the Latino community, who you thought wouldn’t mind being asked to prove their legitimacy as Americans.

Oh boy, I can’t wait to get pulled over … and to vote.

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