In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, state-based American Civil Liberties Union affiliates across the country are issuing travel alerts informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement when traveling in Arizona. The unconstitutional 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 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.
“ACLU affiliates across the country are issuing these alerts because it is imperative that individuals understand their rights before traveling in Arizona,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “Under Arizona’s racial profiling law, people who look ‘foreign’ are more likely to be stopped for minor infractions and then asked for their ‘papers’ if police believe, based on their appearance or accent, that they could be in the country unlawfully. We hope the alerts provide people with some measure of protection from illegal harassment from law enforcement and inform them of their rights should they encounter it.”