Photo: Arizona Police Fear Being Sued Over SB 1070 Provision
Arizona law enforcement agencies are concerned about the potential for lawsuits once the “show me your papers” provision of the state’s controversial immigration law takes effect.
“We can be sued by both sides, by those who don’t think we are applying the law and by others who believe we’re violating civil rights,” Tucson police chief Roberto Villaseñor told Efe.
Subsection 2(b) of state law SB 1070, which requires state and local law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally, is expected to come into force within the next two weeks.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton on Wednesday rejected a motion from the ACLU and other organizations asking her to issue a second injunction against Subsection 2(b).
That element of the law has remained on hold for more than two years thanks to an earlier injunction issued by Bolton in response to the Obama administration’s legal challenge to SB 1070.
Bolton had little choice but to dismiss the ACLU request after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to uphold Subsection 2(b).
“This legislation turns it into an obligation for police to question immigration status. Before, the officer had the choice to do it or not, depending on the case,” Villaseñor said.
Subsection 2(b) gives any Arizona citizen the right to sue a state or local law enforcement agency for failing to enforce show me your papers.
At the same time, people who feel they were racially profiled as a result of the measure can also file lawsuits.
“Police are trained to recognize behavior, not persons,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told Efe.
Dupnik, whose jurisdiction includes Tucson, said Subsection 2(b) will force police departments and sheriff’s offices to develop a “profile” of undocumented immigrants that is not based on ethnicity or physical appearance.
“This regulation will surely make our lives more difficult,” the sheriff said.
Tucson police will receive a guide to enforcing Subsection 2(b) as soon as the measure takes effect, Villaseñor said.
TPD officers will not use a single criterion in deciding whether to question someone’s immigration status, he said, while acknowledging that the lack of an Arizona driver’s license or other state-issued identification could constitute probable cause.
The U.S. Supreme Court left open the possibility that the federal judiciary might revisit Subsection 2(b) if it appears the measure is giving rise to racial profiling.