What would you do? I am faced with a dilemma. Here are the basic details: (all true)
- My family has a long term house guest ... now a friend ... who is legally in the USA. In less than two months, our friend should receive his citizenship papers. For the purposes of this post, I will call my friend "Olaf".
- Olaf advocated for democracy in his homeland. The ruling military dictatorship ultimately imprisoned Olaf ... tortured and shot him. For obvious reasons Olaf and his family fled to a neighboring country.
- Monday afternoon, Olaf was pulled over by the police in the neighboring town and issued a minor traffic citation (not even speeding ticket). Unlike me, Olaf is not white. It's pretty obvious that Olaf is not from the land of Garrison Keillor ... no Scandinavian Minnesota heritage in his background.
- The racial profiling was apparent. We live in a modest middle class neighborhood. The policeman in question did a quick U-Turn to pull over someone who did not match his expectations for the neighborhood.
Here is my dilemma. I have told Olaf he should not contest the ticket; he should pay the minor fine. My recommendation is based upon the fact that he is within weeks of receiving his citizenship papers. My feeling is that under the circumstances it is not worth the battle or risk (ten years of legal work and residency requirements). It makes me feel small for giving such advice. After all, I've never been shot for what I believe in. It's not like I'm someone who goes through life not getting involved. The fact Olaf is my house guest, and my efforts in China show otherwise. Before you quickly come down too hard upon me, one final note. US Citizenship will provide Olaf some measure of protection and the ability to travel back to his home region to visit his family. Without his papers, he is a "man without a country".