The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued travel alerts for the Fourth of July weekend. The organization warns travelers to be prepared while traveling in Arizona, New Mexico, and 26 other states.
The reason: The ACLU believes that Arizona's new law (SB 1070) cracking down on illegal immigrants could lead to racial profiling and warrantless arrests and is concerned that law enforcement officers are already targeting people even though the law doesn't take effect until July 29.
The ACLU believes SB 1070 is unconstitutional. That law 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.
The alerts are designed to teach people about their rights if police stop and question them.
Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, says:
"ACLU affiliates across the country are issuing these alerts because it is imperative that individuals understand their rights before traveling in Arizona. Under Arizona's racial profiling law, people who look 'foreign' are more likely to be stopped for minor infractions and then asked for their 'papers' if police believe, based on their appearance or accent, that they could be in the country unlawfully. 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."
According to the Associated Press, a statement released by a spokesman for Jan Brewer said the ACLU's actions proved how "hopelessly out of touch they are with the vast majority of Arizonans, as well as most Americans."
In addition to the ACLU affiliates in Arizona and New Mexico, chapters in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming issued the travel alerts.
Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement officials can be found at the ACLU.
Image via ACLU