Congratulations! If you are receiving this, you have been identified as a member of one of our nation’s most treasured minority groups. “How was I identified?” you might ask. Due to a pending court case, we’re not able to answer that question at this time, but, despite what you might hear, we are very pleased to have you in our country. Maybe you’re from the Middle East, or maybe you’re from India or Pakistan. Maybe you’re from Mexico but people keep confusing you for someone from the Middle East or India. Maybe you’re Caucasian but you frequent tanning salons. Whatever the case may be, you probably have the same worries that any other good American has in these troubled times. Such as “How do I properly show my love for my country?” and “How do I assure people that I don’t want to kill them?”

With these questions in mind, the Department of Homeland Security has formulated the following guidelines for you and your people based on the United States Terror Alert Levels. If you follow the simple advice below, you will significantly decrease your chances of being arrested or deported.

Terror Alert Level: Low (Green)

To be honest, this level is really just a placeholder. We needed to have a “low” level in order to have the higher levels. If we ever do hit the green level, be aware that this probably means the rest of the world has been destroyed by man-made (e.g., nuclear) or supernatural (e.g., meteor or alien death ray) forces. Whatever the case may be, take the opportunity to live it up, because as soon as Mexico gets repopulated we’ll be back up to the blue level.

Terror Alert Level: Guarded (Blue)

Things are going relatively well in the world, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Need to get on an airplane? Please do—you’re helping our economy. But be sure to let people know what side you’re on. We recommend carrying one of those miniature American flags through the airport. (Although, please, avoid the ones with the sharp points on the pole.) Or maybe you could thank the airport screeners with a hearty pat on the back. (Please do so slowly and after warning them.) And, when you are pulled aside to be searched more thoroughly, it wouldn’t hurt to hum “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Feel free to substitute “America the Beautiful” if you’re unable to hum the high notes.)

Also, is your name Mohammed? Yeah, you might want to change that.

Terror Alert Level: Elevated (Yellow)

Things are getting serious, champ. This should really go without saying, but it’s time to say goodbye to the beard. If you choose not to shave, you’re really just instigating. Here’s a thought—you ever see those movies from the late ‘80s where the young urban male carries a large boom box on his shoulder, pumping rap music wherever he goes? You should give that a shot, although nix the rap music and try some talk radio. How ’bout some Sean Hannity? That stuff’s awesome with the bass turned up.

Also, is your name Tariq, Abdul, Omar, or does it contain the prefix Al-? Those are fine names, but you know what? So are Steve and Paul. Think about it.

Terror Alert Level: High (Orange)

These are dangerous times, my friend. For all Americans, but especially for you. Do you really have to go outside? Because if you don’t have to, there’s really no reason to risk it. With the advent of the Internet, you can accomplish many things from home. And speaking of home, you might notice some government vans rolling by every now and then. You know, just to make sure you’re safe. We do that for everyone. Really.

If you insist on being outdoors, stay in well-lit areas and avoid other people who look like you. If you should happen to see someone of the same complexion walking toward you, go to the other side of the street immediately. And, yes, that includes your family. Avoid them. You don’t want to give good, honest Americans the impression that a plot is afoot.

Terror Alert Level: Severe (Red)

OK, here’s the deal. You need to get to Nevada. If you don’t already live there, don’t worry. We’ll have a bus come and pick you up. Think of it as a well-deserved Vegas vacation! Except not in Vegas. More like a camp set up in the desert about 60 miles south of Vegas. But just as fun and with lots of the security and video-surveillance equipment that Las Vegas is known for. And remember: what happens in a locked-down government camp south of Las Vegas stays in a locked-down government camp south of Las Vegas.