"The roundups are getting worse. The checkpoints are getting worse. The harassment is getting worse. The things we were worried would happen are happening."—Angus Johnston, professor at the City University of New York
No one is safe.
No one is immune.
No one gets spared the anguish, fear and heartache of living under the shadow of an authoritarian police state.
That's the message being broadcast 24/7 to the citizens and residents of the American police state with every new piece of government propaganda, every new law that criminalizes otherwise lawful activity, every new policeman on the beat, every new surveillance camera casting a watchful eye, every sensationalist news story that titillates and distracts, every new prison or detention center built to house troublemakers and other undesirables, every new court ruling that gives government agents a green light to strip and steal and rape and ravage the citizenry, every school that opts to indoctrinate rather than educate, and every new justification for why Americans should comply with the government's attempts to trample the Constitution underfoot.
Here in Amerika, things are getting worse—not better—as the nation inches ever closer towards totalitarianism, that goose-stepping form of tyranny in which the government has all of the power and "we the people" have none.
On Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, immigration agents boarded a Greyhound bus heading to downtown Miami from Orlando and demanded that all passengers provide proof of residence or citizenship. One grandmother, traveling by bus to meet her granddaughter for the first time, was arrested and taken off the bus when she couldn't provide proof of residency.
No word on whether that grandmother was actually in the country illegally.
All we know is that the woman didn't have proof of identification or residency on her, which is common for many older people who don't happen to drive and have no reason to walk around with a photo ID. According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, more than three million Americans don't actually own a government-issued picture ID. That group includes the elderly, the poor, city dwellers, young people, college students, and some rural residents who might not live near a DMV.
This isn't is a new occurrence.
A year ago, passengers arriving in New York's JFK Airport on a domestic flight from San Francisco were ordered to show their "documents" to border patrol agents in order to get off the plane.
With the government empowered to carry out transportation checks to question people about their immigration status within a 100-mile border zone that wraps around the country, you're going to see a rise in these "show your papers" incidents.
That's a problem, and I'll tell you why.
We are not supposed to be living in a "show me your papers" society.
Despite this, the U.S. government has recently introduced measures allowing police and other law enforcement officials to stop individuals (citizens and noncitizens alike), demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless searches, and interrogations.
These actions fly in the face of longstanding constitutional safeguards forbidding such police state tactics.
Set aside the debate over illegal immigration for a moment and think long and hard about what it means when government agents start demanding that people show their papers on penalty of arrest.
The problem with allowing government agents to demand identification from anyone they suspect might be an illegal immigrant—the current scheme being employed by the Trump administration to ferret out and cleanse the country of illegal immigrants—is that it lays the groundwork for a society in which you are required to identify yourself to anygovernment worker who demands it.
Such tactics quickly lead one down a slippery slope that ends with government agents empowered to subject anyone—citizen and noncitizen alike—to increasingly intrusive demands that they prove not only that they are legally in the country, but also that they are in compliance with every statute and regulation on the books.
This flies in the face of the provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which declares that all persons have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents. At a minimum, the Fourth Amendment protects the American people from undue government interference with their movement and from baseless interrogation about their identities or activities.
Unless police have reasonable suspicion that a person is guilty of wrongdoing, they have no legal authority to stop the person and require identification. In other words, "we the people" have the right to come and go as we please without the fear of being questioned by police or forced to identify ourselves.
The Rutherford Institute has issued a Constitutional Q&A on "The Legality of Stop and ID Procedures" that provides some guidance on one's rights if stopped and asked by police to show identification.
Unfortunately, even with legal protections on the books, it's becoming increasingly difficult for the average American to avoid falling in line with a national identification system.