ACLU Claims Sixth Constitutional Abuse Due to SB 1070's "Papers Please" Provision
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona claims to have documented a sixth instance of constitutional violations thanks to the "papers please" provision of SB 1070.
The ACLU is taking legal action in the latest incident, marking the second time the organization has taken legal action on these grounds since the "papers please" provision took effect in September 2012.
As the nickname of SB 1070's section 2(b) implies, it requires law enforcement officers to try to verify a person's immigration status if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person might be in the country illegally. It's not difficult to see how that could lead to racial profiling, and the ACLU claims it has, on several occasions.
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The latest case took place in Tucson in October. Agustin Reyes and Arturo Robles were pulled over on October 8 for a broken license plate light. Neither man had a driver's license but gave the officers their names.
According to a notice of claim filed by the ACLU, one of the officers asked where the men were "from," and when they didn't answer, he "accused both men of being from Mexico." The officers called Border Patrol, and they all waited at the traffic stop for about a half-hour for Border Patrol to arrive, whereupon Reyes and Robles were taken into custody.
The ACLU's notice of claim points out that citations for having a broken license plate light and driving without a license don't normally result in detention. Especially questionable is the detainment of Robles, the passenger, who was never cited for anything. Thus, it certainly appears that Robles was detained "solely on suspicion of unlawful presence," according to the ACLU's notice of claim.
Down in Tucson, the Arizona Daily Star wrote about the traffic stop. Reyes, an anti-SB 1070 activist, actually called fellow activists during the stop, sparking a bit of a showdown between cops and protesters. That all happened after Border Patrol had arrived, so it didn't really have a bearing on the circumstances of the traffic stop.
The notice of claim, which is something of a precursor to a lawsuit, alleges a couple of constitutional violations -- freedom from unreasonable seizures, and equal protection of the law -- as well as false arrest.
ACLU of Arizona executive director Alessandra Soler said the following in a statement:
"Though Chief [Roberto] Villaseñor has opposed SB 1070 in the past, his department's recent actions speak louder than words. His officers are hiding behind SB 1070 to justify prioritizing immigration enforcement above public safety, and these practices are creating an even greater divide between Tucson police and the community. He has adopted Arpaio-style policing practices that are impermissible under our Constitution, including questioning passengers about their immigration status and detaining people based on nothing more than skin color. It's time to hold him accountable and stop these abusive practices.
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