The request for papers is not just a line in Casablanca. I have been hearing the question my whole traveling life. I had an Alien Registration Card in Britain and got occasional visits from the police at my home, to make sure I was behaving myself. Seventeen years in Britain as an alien: papers. Six years in Africa: “Where are your papers, bwana?” Three years in Singapore: another alien identity card and immense red tape in that fussy, litigious bureaucracy…

In Toronto last year I had to show my passport to check into my hotel. You can’t check into any hotel in India or China or buy certain railway tickets there without showing your passport and having all your details recorded. So why should an Indian or a Chinese in the U.S. be surprised if he or she is stopped for speeding by a policeman in Flagstaff and asked for a proof of residence?…

As for this Arizona law (which is understandable until the federal government takes a stand), I am delighted to be reassured that there will be no racial profiling. The illegals in Arizona are not just Hispanics. Those of you who have read Dark Star Safari, my book about traveling through Africa, might remember how, in the Sudan, I met a Sudanese man (on vacation in Khartoum from New York) who explained very carefully how he had entered the United States illegally, the best way: Go to Mexico, pay someone some money, and then hide in a fish truck or a vegetable van and hop the border. Sudanese, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis, Brazilians. Illegal aliens come from all over the world to converge on the Arizona, California, and New Mexico borders. The Hispanics are right to be a little indignant, but just a little. It is much easier to sneak into the U.S. than to apply for a residence permit.