June 30, 2010

St. Paul, Minn - In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona's racial profiling law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota issued a travel alert today informing Minnesota 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 Minnesota 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.

"If Minnesotans are planning to travel to Arizona for the holiday weekend, they need to know their rights," said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Minnesota. "In Arizona, officials are not waiting for the new law to take effect to start questioning people about their immigration status. People who look or sound ‘foreign' are more likely to be stopped for minor infractions like having a broken taillight or jaywalking and then asked for their ‘papers' if police think that they could be in the country unlawfully."

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 Know Your Rights card that can be downloaded. This card has instructions - applicable in any state - on coping with vehicle stops and questioning by police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or the FBI. We also have a Frequently Asked Questions document about SB 1070.

"The new Arizona law invites racial profiling, even of travelers," said Charles Samuelson. "This can mean searches and detention. If you go to Arizona, you need to know your rights, especially your right to remain silent about where you were born or your immigration status."

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.

The ACLU has created a card for individuals travelling to Arizona so they can be aware of their rights. Know Your Rights in Spanish, and in English Know your Rights Card.

Save these links on your phone to access the mobile version of the cards while on the go:

More information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show, can be found at: www.aclu.org/what-happens-arizona-stops-arizona

More information about the lawsuit, including information on co-counsel and plaintiffs, can be found at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-racial-justice/aclu-and-civil-rights-groups-file-legal-challenge-arizona-racial-pr