ACLU Issues Arizona Travel Advisory

June 30, 2010 12:00 am

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. – In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, along with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and 26 other ACLU affiliates, issued a travel alert today informing residents of their rights when stopped by law enforcement when traveling in Arizona.

The unconstitutional Arizona 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 United States. 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 California affiliates of the ACLU are concerned that some law enforcement officers may already be 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.

“California residents need to know their rights and the dangers of traveling to Arizona before setting foot there,” said Hector Villagra, ACLU/SC legal director. “This disturbing new law makes it much more likely that a police officer will demand a person deemed ‘foreign’ to present ‘papers’ for the smallest of infractions, as simple as a broken taillight or jaywalking.”

In addition to the travel alert, the ACLU has made available in English and Spanish materials on individuals’ rights if stopped by law enforcement in Arizona or other states as a result of SB 1070 or for any reason. The materials include a downloadable card with instructions – applicable in any state – on coping with vehicle stops and questioning by police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or the FBI, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document about SB 1070.

“Our goal is to protect Californians from illegal harassment by law enforcement,” Villagra said. “California is a state with deep immigrant roots and a rich history. We are not all one color or one creed. Many of us fit a racial profile that police in Arizona will inevitably use to enforce an extreme and discriminatory law. That’s why every Californian should know that under Arizona’s misguided laws, they will likely experience racial profiling and unlawful detentions.”

The ACLU and other leading civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Arizona law in May, but until the law is struck down, the ACLU warns that individuals traveling in Arizona must be aware of their rights if stopped there.

Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement can be found at:

More information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show, can be found at:

More information about the lawsuit, including information on co-counsel and plaintiffs, can be found at:

More information about the ACLU of Southern California’s work on racial profiling can be found at:

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