A recently enacted law in that state, SB 1070, requires law enforcement agents to demand proof of being in the U.S. legally from anyone who they suspect may not be. What might cause an officer of the law to suspect that you are the sort of person they should demand papers of?
Well, we're all comfortable leaving that up to each officer's personal judgment, aren't we? But it is totes not going to be based on racial profiling. We've had Arizona governor Jan Brewer's word for that. Said Brewer:
It wouldn't matter if you are Latino or Hispanic or Norwegian. If you didn't have proof of citizenship and the police officer had reasonable suspicion, he would ask and verify your citizenship. I mean, that's the way that it is.Got that, Norwegians? You are not off the hook.
The law does not take effect until July 29, but the ACLU is concerned that some law enforcement officers may be honing their reasonable suspicion in order to have it razor-sharp on the big day. The ACLU notes there is a history in Arizona of widespread racial profiling, particularly in Maricopa County, the fiefdom of self-worshipping Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Then, too, the Fourth of July is a celebration of independence, and some folks can't fully enjoy their freedom without a twist of coercion.
How better to intensify the savor of freedom for patriotic Arizonans than by confining any who can be suspected — reasonably! — of not being entitled to enjoy it? And by doing it boldly, warrantlessly, without evidence of their having committed a crime, or even of a crime having been committed — other than the crime of suspicious paperlessness. Ah, that's a spicy freedom-stew fit for a celebration!
The ACLU has available for download (.pdf) a card which can be folded and carried in your wallet, with instructions in both English and Spanish on dealing with vehicle stops and questioning by police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, or the F.B.I. The information is applicable to dealing with law enforcement in any U.S. state.
More information about the ACLU’s campaign against SB 1070, including a lawsuit they have filed with other civil rights organizations challenging the law's constitutionality, can be found here.
Material informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement, optimized for mobile devices, is available here: in English and en Español.
Happy Independence Day, U.S. Shakers!
(Independence may be celebrated each and every day here at Shakesville. Documentation not required. Residency in the U.S. not required. Willingness to support and celebrate others' independence as well as your own required.)