The nation’s top civil liberties group on Wednesday issued travel alerts for Arizona, saying the state’s new law cracking down on illegal immigrants could lead to racial profiling and warrantless arrests.
American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Arizona, New Mexico and 26 other states put out the warnings in advance of the Fourth of July weekend. The Arizona chapter has received reports that law enforcement officers are already targeting some people even though the law doesn’t take effect until July 29, its executive director said.
The alerts are designed to teach people about their rights if police stop and question them.
The Arizona law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime for legal immigrants to not carry their immigration documents and bans day laborers and people who seek their services from blocking traffic on streets.
Here is the problem. When the new Arizona law takes effect you can be arrested and jailed if you do not have clear proof of US citizenship on your person at all times. A driver’s license is not proof of citizenship.
Though the law is clearly intended to harass people who look like they might be from Central and South America, Arizona authorities will attempt to avoid accusations of “profiling” (picking out people of color for harassment) by occasionally stopping and arresting people who do not look Hispanic, claiming they might be here from Canada or an Asian country. They will likely jail sufficient numbers to provide cover for accusations of profiling. This means that, while Hispanic-appearing people will receive the most harassment, everyone else will also be at risk of harassment and arrest at any time.
Crooks & Liars has a great deal more, and concludes, “Pretty nasty state of affairs Arizona is cooking up in the desert.”