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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As Holiday Weekend Approaches, ACLU NM Issues Alert To NM Residents Traveling To Arizona

Planning on taking a trip to Arizona or driving through the state during the upcoming holiday weekend (or anytime)? Here's what you need to know to protect your rights in a state where the Republican governor and legislature have purposefully stirred up the populace on the issue of immigrants in an election year.

In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) issued a travel alert (pdf) today informing New Mexico residents of their rights when stopped by law enforcement when traveling in Arizona. The organization also released the following statement:

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 new law is not scheduled to go into effect until July 29, ACLU-NM is concerned that some police officers and sheriff's deputies are already beginning to act on provisions of the law. Arizona law enforcement has a well-documented history of racial profiling, especially in Maricopa County. Arizona lawmakers have espoused a policy of “attrition through enforcement” that is meant to create such a hostile environment for people perceived to be immigrants that they flee the state.

“We want to ensure that New Mexicans understand the increased risk for illegal harassment and unlawful detentions when traveling in Arizona,” said Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the ACLU-NM. “Our proud tradition of diversity and multi-culturalism means that one in two New Mexicans would fit the racial profile that police will inevitably use to enforce the law. New Mexico residents should also be aware that, because our driver’s licenses do not require proof of legal residence to obtain, they may not satisfy Arizona’s criteria for identification under the new Arizona racial profiling law.”

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 other reason. The materials include a downloadable card (see below) 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.

“If I could only give one piece of advice to New Mexicans planning to travel in Arizona, it would be ‘Know your Rights’,” said Vicki Gaubeca, Director of the ACLU-NM Regional Center for Border Rights. “If you look or sound ‘foreign,’ you are more likely to be subjected to pretextual stops for minor infractions such as a cracked windshield or jaywalking. Law enforcement officers may believe that you are in the country unlawfully just because of the way you look, and your best protection against harassment is a thorough understanding of your rights.”

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. If you are stopped by law enforcement in Arizona and you believe that racial profiling was a factor, you can submit a written complaint online on this page of the ACLU-NM website.

Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement can be found here and here in Spanish.

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

Click for more information about the lawsuit, including information on co-counsel and plaintiffs -- including ACLU-NM’s own Vicki Gaubeca.

More information about the ACLU of New Mexico’s work on racial profiling can be found at our website.

June 30, 2010 at 11:32 AM in Border Issues, Civil Liberties, Hispanic Issues, Impeachment, Minority Issues | Permalink


Thank you ACLU.

Posted by: Will | Jun 30, 2010 2:54:34 PM