CLEVELAND- In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio issued a travel alert today informing Ohio residents of their rights when stopped by law enforcement while 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 Ohio 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.
“Thousands of Ohioans travel through Arizona every year and must be informed of their rights when dealing with law enforcement there,” said James Hardiman, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio. “Law enforcement has been given the green light to question anyone who they believe appears to be an undocumented immigrant, opening the door to unfair racial profiling. This ‘stop and show your papers’ law is un-American and unconstitutional at its core.”
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.
“Ohio is a diverse state with many residents who could be wrongfully profiled as ‘looking undocumented,’” said Hardiman. “If Ohioans choose to travel to Arizona, they must protect themselves by being informed of their rights and respectfully asserting them.”
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.