Your papers, please

"Your papers, please" (or "Papers, please") is an expression or trope associated with police state functionaries, allegedly popularized in Hollywood movies featuring Nazi Party officials demanding identification from citizens during random stops or at checkpoints.[1] It is a cultural metaphor for life in a police state.[2][3]

German Ordnungspolizei officers examining a man's papers; Krakau, General Government (1941)

The phrase has been used disparagingly in the debate over Real ID and national ID cards in the United States.[4][5][6]

It has also been used to refer to interactions with citizens during police stops[7][8] and immigration enforcement.[9] Arizona's controversial SB 1070 law requiring people to carry identification was dubbed the "Papers, Please" law.[10]

The phrase has also been used by the press in relation to a February 2017 incident in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents searching for a suspect demanded identification from passengers exiting a domestic flight.[11][12] In January 2018, bus passengers allege that Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus in Florida and demanded U.S. identification or a passport from all of those on board.[13]

A lawsuit against Glendale, Arizona, police officers alleges that a passenger in a car was tasered on the genitals after he asked an officer why he needed to identify himself during a 2017 traffic stop.[14]

University of Essex researchers say police use of facial recognition technology at public events is like people being "asked for their papers without their consent".[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Duncan Long (1 January 2007). Protect Your Privacy: How to Protect Your Identity as Well as Your Financial, Personal, and Computer Records in an Age of Constant Surveillance. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 223–. ISBN 978-1-59921-687-4.
  2. ^ Margaret Hu (November 15, 2011). "'Show Me Your Papers' Laws and American Cultural Values". Jurist.
  3. ^ Michael A. Caloyannides (2004). Privacy Protection and Computer Forensics. Artech House. pp. 298–. ISBN 978-1-58053-831-2.
  4. ^ "Panel Discussion: Your Papers Please, What the Real ID Act Means for American Values". New York Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  5. ^ Sen. Rand Paul (May 24, 2013). "PAUL: Blocking the pathway to a national ID". The Washington Times.
  6. ^ Tomás R. Jiménez and Mark Krikorian Tomás (February 7, 2008). "Your papers, please". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ ""Your Papers, Please:" ACLU Urges Supreme Court to Protect Right to Remain Anonymous". American Civil Liberties Union. March 22, 2004.
  8. ^ Mike Riggs (February 25, 2014). "Yes, Police Can Arrest You for Failing to Identify Yourself". CityLab.
  9. ^ Alfonso Serrano (September 7, 2012). "Immigration Update: Arizona Police Can Now Ask, 'Papers Please'". Time.
  10. ^ Raymond, Adam K. (21 November 2016). "Trump Cabinet Hopeful Forgets Cover Sheet, Exposes DHS Plan for All to See". The New Yorker. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  11. ^ Garrett Epps (February 27, 2017). "Papers, Please". The Atlantic.
  12. ^ Keegan Hamilton (February 23, 2017). "Your papers, please". Vice.
  13. ^ Joshua Rhett Miller (January 23, 2018). "Border agent arrest aboard Greyhound bus triggers outcry". New York Post.
  14. ^ Eliott C. McLaughlin (February 10, 2019). "Officer used Taser on man's genitals, says lawsuit accusing Arizona police of torture". CNN.
  15. ^ Cain Burdeau (July 5, 2019). "Report Blasts London Police Use of Facial Recognition Cameras". Courthouse News.