Photo: Racial profiling
Members of the Hispanic community in southern Arizona say they have experienced racial profiling by the police after the entry into force of the “show me your papers” provision of the state’s harsh immigration law.
Martha Angel Castillo, a volunteer with the Arizona Human Rights Coalition, said that one of the cases on which she is currently working is that of a women who identified herself only as Maria Estela and who after being subjected to 12 years of domestic violence dared to file a complaint against her husband.
“When the police officer came to her home, her husband (a U.S. citizen) told the officer that Maria Estela was an undocumented immigrant, and the officer called her outside and handcuffed her immediately,” said Angel during a community forum in Tucson.
She said the officer called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested the immigrant and waited until the following day to take her to a hospital where she received medical attention for the beating she had suffered at the hands of her husband.
Angel said that this case, which occurred several days after Subsection 2(b) of law SB 1070 entered into force last week, shows that the police were more interested in questioning the woman’s immigration status than in protecting her from an abusive spouse.
Subsection 2(b) requires Arizona law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they suspect of being in the United States illegally.
Another person who told about his own experience was Carlos, a legal immigrant.
He said that he was arrested on Sept. 16 by the Arizona highway patrol for nothing more than his Hispanic appearance.
After turning over his automobile registration and insurance information to the officer, he realized that he did not have his driver’s license with him, and the officer asked him if a family member could bring it to him.
His wife, accompanied by a daughter brought the license, but the state troopers immediately began questioning the woman’s identity.
“My wife gave them her driver’s license from Mexico, they asked her for other identification and she gave them her consular I.D. card. After that she decided to keep quiet,” Carlos said.
After a long wait, while the officers filled out the ticket, the Border Patrol arrived to inquire into the immigration status of the couple.
Carlos’s wife was arrested and is now in the detention center for undocumented immigrants in Eloy, Arizona.
Tucson police chief Roberto Villaseñor, who heard the testimonies presented at the community forum, said that there are two sides to every story and that often an investigation of the cases finds that they did not occur as they were related.
“We’re still in the training process,” Villaseñor told Efe regarding the enforcement of Subsection 2(b).