Arizona Racial Profiling Law Threatens Civil Liberties
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Boston – In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts issued a travel alert today informing Mass. residents of their rights when stopped by law enforcement when traveling in Arizona. The new Arizona law, known as SB 1070, requires law enforcement agents to demand “papers” from people they stop who they suspect are not authorized to be in the U.S. If individuals are unable to prove to officers that they are permitted to be in the U.S., they may be subject to warrantless arrest without any probable cause that they have committed a crime.
Although the law is not scheduled to go into effect until July 29, the ACLU of Massachusetts is concerned that some law enforcement officers are already beginning to act on provisions of the law. Moreover, there has been a history of rampant racial profiling by law enforcement in Arizona, especially in Maricopa County, as well as a stated anti-immigrant policy of “attrition through enforcement” by Arizona lawmakers meant to create a hostile enough environment for Latinos and other people of color that they voluntarily leave the state.
“It is imperative that Massachusetts residents understand their rights before traveling in Arizona,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Any small infraction such as a broken taillight or jaywalking can lead to a police stop and a request for ‘documents.’ Travelers should educate themselves about their rights.”
In addition to the travel alert, the ACLU has made available in English and Spanish materials on individuals’ rights if stopped by law enforcement in Arizona or other states as a result of SB 1070 or for any other reason. The materials, available at https://www.aclu.org/what-happens-Arizona-stops-arizona, include a downloadable “bust card” with instructions – applicable in any state – on coping with vehicle stops and questioning by police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or the FBI, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document about SB 1070.
“Racial profiling is unconstitutional,” said ACLU of Mass. staff attorney Laura Rótolo. “We believe the Arizona law is unconstitutional because it requires law enforcement officers to demand documents of anyone whom they suspect to be in the country illegally. What will police base that suspicion on if not race?”
The ACLU and other leading civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Arizona law in May, but until the law is struck down, the ACLU warns that individuals traveling in Arizona must be aware of their rights if stopped there. For more on the lawsuit, visit www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-racial-justice/aclu-and-civil-rights-groups-file-legal-challenge-arizona-racial-pr
Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement and more information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show, can be found at: www.aclu.org/what-happens-arizona-stops-arizona
Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement optimized for mobile devices is available at: mobile.aclu.org
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.