As Holiday Weekend Approaches, Maine Civil Liberties Union Issues Alert To Mainers Traveling To Arizona

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
June 30, 2010 12:00 am

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Arizona Racial Profiling Law Threatens Civil Liberties


Portland – In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, the Maine Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) issued a travel alert today informing Maine residents of their rights when stopped by law enforcement when traveling in Arizona. The unconstitutional 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 U.S. 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 MCLU is concerned that some law enforcement officers are already 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.

“The reality is that if you travel to Arizona, you need to be aware that you could be arrested for not having your papers on you,” said Brianna Twofoot, Field Director of the MCLU. “As a third generation American and a Latina Mainer, I never thought about the possibility of being arrested for not carrying my birth certificate in my purse.”

In addition to the travel alert, the MCLU 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 other 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 ensure Mainers know their rights and prepare for the possibility of unconstitutional search and arrest in Arizona,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “Mainers who split their time between Arizona and Maine should be aware of the new requirements to carry documentation at all times. Under Arizona’s SB 1070, Maine residents could experience racial profiling and unnecessary time in jail in Arizona as a result of this extreme and discriminatory measure.”

The MCLU is inviting any Maine residents detained by Arizona authorities while traveling to Arizona to file a complaint with the organization. The American Civil Liberties Union 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.

The travel alert is available at:

Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement and more information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show, can be found at:

Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement optimized for mobile devices is available at:

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

More information about the Maine Civil Liberties Union’s work on racial profiling can be found at:

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