Tucson cop files federal suit against Az immigration law
No 'race-neutral' way to enforce
A Tucson police officer has filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona's new immigration law, SB 1070.
Officer Martin H. Escobar, 45, claims the law violates numerous constitutional rights and would interfere with law enforcement in predominately Hispanic areas.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court by attorney Richard M. Martinez, alleges violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights of Escobar, other Tucson police officers, and Hispanics.
Escobar claims to have suffered "employment discrimination and retaliation by Pima County Juvenile Court" for expressing his views on the law. The suit claims violations of due process, equal protection, infringement of free speech, and violation of Fourth and Fifth Amendment restrictions on government investigations.
It also seeks declaratory judgment against Arizona's stringent new anti-illegal immigration law because of claimed violations of federal law. The suit says the Tucson Police Department and city have no basis to enforce immigration laws.
Escobar, a 15-year veteran of TPD, claims that there is no racially-neutral way to determine who to question about immigration status.
According to the suit, a number of factors may stereotype Hispanics, but do not "provide any race neutral criteria or basis to suspect or identify who is lawfully in the United States."
Listed in the suit are these factors:
- • proximity to the border
- • racial and linguistic characteristics
- • skin color and physical features
- • manner of dress
- • linguistic capabilities in Spanish and/or English
- • watching Spanish-language television or playing
- • stereotypical vehicles and use of public transportation
- • license plates, whether from another state or Mexico
- • living in stereotypical residences
The suit claims:
In plaintiff’s experience as a Law Enforcement Officer, requiring law enforcement to routinely question Hispanics about their immigrant status in the United States and require production of actual proof of their lawful presence in the United States would seriously impede law enforcement investigations and facilitate the successful commission of crimes in the United States.
The lawsuit claims that the rights of Hispanics and the rights of police 0fficers such as Escobar are threatened by SB 1070, saying the law "places every Hispanic within the State of Arizona at substantial risk of the immediate loss of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, including unlawful detention, denial of due process, equal protection based solely on their race, Hispanic."
Plaintiff believes that SB 1070 is the product of racial bias aimed specifically at Hispanics, is unlawful, results in impermissible deprivations of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, has voiced his opinions of such in the work place and been confronted by Law Enforcement Officer’s for expressing such beliefs.
TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor declined to comment on the pending litigation. Calls to attorney Martinez were not immediately returned.