For 19-year-old Hugo Carrillo Escobedo, SB1070 is about more than just “showing your papers.” After “squealing” his tires, Hugo wound up in immigration detention for eight hours. Hugo’s story is particularly compelling because he was initially just given a citation for the traffic violation and immediately released. But the police officer later showed up at his house, saying: “Do you know about SB1070? If I don’t report you, I could lose my job.”
Unfortunately, unlawful, prolonged detentions will become rampant in Arizona if Section 2(b) of SB1070 is allowed to go into effect, as local police officers across the state will be required to act as de facto immigration agents. And today, we are one step closer to that reality after Wednesday’s ruling from a federal judge in Phoenix.
The residents of Maricopa County already know this reality all too well. For the past five years, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has terrorized Latinos, launching a relentless campaign vilifying Mexicans and then using minor traffic stops – a cracked windshield or broken tail light — as a legal cover to stop and interrogate them about their immigration status. His practices amount to racial profiling for immigration enforcement, and that’s precisely the type of policing that SB1070 is modeled after.
Although the court denied our request to block Section 2(b) from going into effect, the fight against SB1070 isn’t over by any means. We plan to ramp up our litigation efforts to seek justice on behalf of all victims of racial profiling and illegal detentions. And we will continue to send a strong message to policymakers in other states that it’s un-American to target people like Hugo simply because of the color of their skin.
It’s costly to force police officers like the one who detained Hugo to choose between keeping their jobs and subjecting people to pointless detention. And, most importantly, it’s illegal under our Constitution to subject people to increased police scrutiny, questioning and detention based simply on their race or national origin. If Section 2(b) goes into effect in 10 days, there’s no question that Latinos will be the number one target and we’ll be there to seek justice on their behalf.
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