Most Viewed Stories
Group urges public to call ACLU with profiling allegations
An alliance of local nonprofit organizations is enlisting the American Civil Liberties Union in the battle against what it predicts will be discrimination resulting from Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070.
In a recent news conference, members of the Community Leadership Alliance urged Yuma County's Hispanic residents to call an ACLU toll-free line — 1-885-RESPETO (1-885-737-7386) — if they believe they have been victims of racial profiling.
Portions of the 2010 law were suspended by a federal judge's ruling later that year, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the state could carry out the so-called “papers please” section of the law. It requires that people stopped for other reasons be detained for verification of their immigration status if police officers have reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, who previously issued the injunction delaying enforcement of portions of the law, recently signed the order formally dissolving the suspension on the “papers please” provision.
“This section will bring about a high risk of racial profiling,” said Everardo Martinez Insunza, a member of the alliance made up of leaders of various nonprofit organizations mostly in south Yuma County. “Even people who are here legally could be intimidated jut for the color of their skin or for the car they drive.”
While conceding no such complaints of profiling have arisen so far, Martinez said it is only a matter of time.
Area law enforcement agencies have said they don't racially profile and that the law will not change how their officers currently conduct themselves in the field.
Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden, for example, said Friday that his department will conduct an internal investigation of any complaints it receives from residents who believe they have been profiled. He encourages the public to call the department, 783-4427, if they believe they have been profiled.
Like the sheriff, the Yuma Police Department has an internal affairs division that will investigate any complaints of profiling, said Officer Cruz Vidal, YPD spokeswoman.
She said the department is mindful of concerns over the law and that it will enforce it accordingly. “We acknowledge, we understand everyone has civil rights and we are not in the business of violating those rights.”
Joining Martinez at the news conference was Mexico's consul in Yuma, Miguel Escobar Valdez, whose government previously came out against the law.
“The argument is that the officers have been trained to not violate people's constitutional rights. Nevertheless, doubts exist.”
Escobar said one concern of SB 1070 opponents is how long police officers can keep people detained in the course of checking their citizenship status.