Society

ACLU Fights Tucson Cops over “Show Me Your Papers” Law

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The ACLU is fighting back against Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” law, which allows police to check documentation of any person during traffic stops or other encounters.

The law is intended to help stop illegal immigration, but critics claim that it promotes racial profiling.

The ACLU filed a notice of claim against South Tucson Police Department on behalf of Alejandro Valenzuela, a 23-year-old who says he was arrested and detained for five hours at the Customs and Border Patrol facility in Tucson. Valenzuela reportedly went to the house of a friend who was having trouble with police officers. The police told him to go away, but then Officer Paul South followed him back to the car, which a friend was driving. South removed the keys from the ignition and demanded to see an ID.

Valenzuela, who is in the country through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, had student and work identification, as well as a bus pass, but no state ID. South reportedly said, "I'm going to get this guy because he has no ID," and took him to the station until officials confirmed that he was here legally.

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"It didn't matter to the officers that I hadn't committed a crime," said Valenzuela. "This is what happens when you let police act like immigration officials and it's another example of why the police have lost the community's trust."

The ACLU has condemned the “show me your papers” law since its inception, and is working to have it revoked. They are also trying to stop other states from adopting similar legislation.

According to the organization’s website, “The ACLU has amassed an 8.77 million dollar war chest to aggressively battle any state’s attempts to enact copycat legislation while also fighting the corrosive effects of existing anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and the five copycat states. Provisions similar to those considered by the Supreme Court are also in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah’s laws.”

Sources: Courthouse News, ACLU