ACLU issues travel warning for Arizona
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ACLU issues travel warning for Arizona

Rights group cites SB 1070 in warning travelers

It's usually the U.S. State Department that issues travel advisories, warning Americans about traveling in dangerous foreign lands like Afghanistan or, say, Mexico.

But Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union began issuing travel advisories warning about trips to Arizona in advance of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

32 of the ACLU's state offices - including Arizona's - are telling travelers to beware SB 1070. The Arizona branch urged travelers to report any racial profiling complaints to them.

"ACLU of Arizona has already received complaints from people who believe they were profiled by law enforcement because they look "foreign." Since April, the ACLU of Arizona has received a steady increase in reports involving individuals who were asked to confirm their identity or citizenship status," said a news release from the state office.

"In Arizona, SB 1070 has caused relations between community members and police to go from bad to worse," said ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler Meetze in the release. "Two of the largest police departments in the state – DPS and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office – have  had to defend against accusations of racial profiling in Court.  On top of that, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected civil rights violations."

"California residents need to know their rights and the dangers of traveling to Arizona before setting foot there. This disturbing new law makes it much more likely that a police officer will demand a person deemed "foreign" to present "papers" for the smallest of infractions, as simple as a broken taillight or jaywalking," said Hector Villagra, legal director for the Southern California branch of the civil rights organization, in a news release.

"Even though the law won't go into effect until the end of July, Arizona's history of racial profiling and the wild-frontier antics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapaio give reason to believe that at least some state or local police officers will feel emboldened to act on the law before its time. The ACLU wants you to be prepared for such circumstances — especially this weekend, as the summer travel season hits its stride," said the advisory by the New Mexico ACLU.

The ACLU's actions proved how "hopelessly out of touch they are," Gov. Jan Brewer's spokesman said in a statement.

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"The legislation includes very specific language that makes it abundantly clear that racial profiling is and will continue to be illegal in Arizona," said Paul Senseman.

"Instead of spreading fear, hate, and disinformation about the legislation, it would be helpful for the ACLU to instead join Gov. Brewer's demand that the federal government stop discussing and begin implementing an honest plan to secure our nation's border."

SB 1070, as amended by HB 2162, says that law enforcement "may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution."

Courts have previously held that limited forms of profiling suspects by race or ethnicity are constitutionally valid.

"We hope the alerts provide people with some measure of protection from illegal harassment from law enforcement and inform them of their rights should they encounter it," said the ACLU's nation executive director, Anthony D. Romero, in a news release.

"Our goal is to protect Arizona residents from misconduct by law enforcement, and to make sure they know their rights should they be subject to it," said Meetze.

"Unfortunately, we're already hearing stories about individuals being harassed by police based on their accent, appearance, or where they come from.  It is important for people to understand that they have the right to politely decline additional questioning, to refuse a consent search, and to ask to speak to an attorney. These rights are not just reserved to citizens of this country but are available to everyone."

In addition to the warning, the country's top civil rights group has posted a "know your rights" card on its website.

The "bust card" contains information on dealing with vehicle stops and questioning by law enforcement.

ACLU branches in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Northern California, Southern California, San Diego & Imperial Counties, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas and Western Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Eastern Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming are issuing the travel warnings.

Support today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson.

SB 1070 is scheduled to take effect July 29, barring a court challenge that may stay the law.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

Jul 5, 2010, 10:36 pm
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Thank God for the ACLU! I just sent them a big, fat check for their involvement in assisting us with this criminal law.

Now I am waiting for our President to File a suit against Arizona, as this is a stupid, ridiculous, prejudiced, ILLEGAL law! The Federal Government has the responsibility to set and maintain immigration policy, not the states.

I don’t see the wonderful state of Washington following Arizona’s law, keeping those horrible Canadians out of their state!

I travel around the world and as soon I tell somebody I am from Arizona, I am immediately attacked! Arizona just received the very prestigious award of being “The Stupidest State in the Union”.

Go to Cuba, they have the SAME LAW there. You must have your documentation at all time and are stopped every single day. I don’t want Arizona to become another Cuba!

Good luck Mr. President and you do have more support here that you know!

Jun 30, 2010, 4:26 pm
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Half the American working population is looking for work and the good old Liberal Marxist Democrat are out to force another crippling amnesty down our throats.
The costs and other expenditures for illegal aliens is such a burden on the economy of Arizona and every other state—SOMETHING MUST BE DONE & NOW? Decades of complete disregard for Citizens and legal residents have led us to the edge of a financial precipice. Billions of dollars every year are transferred to other countries to support families, plus even more billions are sent to Mexico to stabilize their economies, but most ends up in the pockets of the corrupt government. The interior of America has become a welfare state for “Anchor Babies”, for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who have doctored and fraudulent government issued ID’s.

This gives them access to welfare entitlements, which is the absolute fault of every Administration since President Bush Senior. Any kind of AMNESTY now will also attribute to a breakdown that will encompass the whole of America. Billions more will be spent in processing the 20 to 30 million already here, with an imminent danger of millions of others wanting to reach this land before AMNESTY is signed into law. Those readers who are unsure, should read the implications after the 1986 Immigration Control & Reform bill was signed by Ronald Reagan. THEY LIED TO US IN 1986, THEY ARE LYING TO US NOW.

Jun 30, 2010, 4:24 pm
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Since the 1920 the ACLU has brought misery to the American people, its origins drenched in Communistic views. It’s ominous beginnings have always had the ideologies of undermining this nations freedoms, liberties and crushing the US Constitution. They are always out front in suing communities, mostly because of a growing need to eliminate our Democracy and giving—rights—to illegal aliens, who have trespassed in a sovereign nation that has THE PEOPLE’S law to enforce our borders and deport people who have intentionally ignored our immigration laws. I cannot even count the number of times that I have been stopped by the police, but even so once checked on their computer I was sent on my way.

  It was a absolute travesty as all the promises were never kept. Employers knowingly hiring foreign nationals were never penalized with harsh fines or imprisonment. Instead of 3 million being legitimized the number was way beyond 6 million. The cost of processing was staggering. President Obama is giving a pep-talk this Thursday, but it is the open border, free trade and special interest lobbyists that are passing along the rhetoric and lies. His token military force on the border will not have the ability to halt the unfettered flow of illegal drugs, foreign nationals or even Middle Eastern terrorists. The Tea Party and thousands of pro-sovereignty organization and advocates have already proclaimed there will be no—AMNESTY.  Until the—REAL—double parallel fences are duly completed, nothing will pass that even smells of AMNESTY. Learn the whole truth at NumbersUSA. Additionally discover who your enemies are in both political parties beginning with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

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