In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona's racial profiling law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana issued a travel alert today informing Louisiana 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 ACLU of Louisiana 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.
"Louisiana residents need to understand their rights before they go to Arizona," said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "This law means that anyone who a police officer thinks looks 'foreign' is more likely to be stopped for something minor, like having a broken taillight or jaywalking and then asked for their 'papers.' Since most people don't travel with proof of legal residency, anyone can be at risk of arrest just for what they look like."
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 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.
"We want to be sure that Louisiana residents don't experience from illegal harassment from law enforcement. We want them to know their rights should they encounter it," said Esman. "Those Louisianians who might appear to fit the racial profile that police will use to enforce the law are at risk of unlawful detention in Arizona."
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.
Printable "know your rights" cards are available on our Know Your Rights page.
Additional 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 the page What Happens In Arizona Stops In Arizona.
Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement, optimized for mobile devices, is available at: mobile.aclu.org
More information about the ACLU's lawsuit, including information on co-counsel and plaintiffs, may be found here.