By Jim Shee
Jim Shee is a plaintiff in the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights organizations’ case challenging S.B. 1070, Arizona’s notorious immigration law. Shee is an American citizen of Chinese and Spanish descent and a lifelong Arizona resident. Before the law passed, he was stopped twice by police and asked to show his “papers.” He now carries his passport with him at all times in case he is again pulled over and required to prove his right to be in his own country and city.
In this podcast, Shee describes an incident in which he was racially profiled:
I’ve been affected by SB1070 when it was first enacted on my birthday. It was very vivid April the 6th in 2010, I was leaving a car wash, and I received a text on my way out and so I pulled over and was answering my text. A couple minutes later I saw the flashing lights behind my car, and a Phoenix police officer tapping on my window. So I rolled down my window and he immediately responds, “Let me see your papers.” So I produced my papers. He took them out the window, went to the back of the car, must have called in by his radio and came back a few minutes later, and he said, “Well, you’re all clear. You’re free to go.” I questioned him and I says, “Why did you stop me?” And I says, “Well all I was doing was texting, and which I understand the law says that don’t text while you’re driving so I’m not driving and I’m checking my text. So you stopped me because I look suspicious.” And he says, “Yeah, but you’re free to go now.”
I was born and raised in Arizona, and I am a citizen for 70 plus years and for me to produce my papers, make me feel discriminated, racially profiled because of the color of my skin that I am being subjected to this type of inquiry.
My grandchildren are not blonde hair, blue eyes, and I fear for them that they are going to have to probably produce paperwork that they are here, what is their immigration status, and etc. I feel that’s very degrading and embarrassing.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that Shee was stopped twice after S.B. 1070 passed. That was incorrect. He was stopped prior to the law’s passage. The post has also been amended to reflect that Shee is represented by a coalition of civil rights organizations, not just the ACLU.