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"Show Me Your Papers" Law Takes Effect in Arizona

Following judge's order, police can now demand proof of immigration status

Common Dreams staff

Judge's ruling, says the ACLU, "opens the door to racial profiling, wrongful detentions and arrests, putting everyone's civil rights at risk." (Ross D. Franklin / AP)

US District Judge Susan Bolton ruled on Tuesday that Arizona police can immediately start enforcing the so-called "show me your papers" provision of a law passed by the Republican-run state legislature an signed nearly two years ago by Governor Jan Brewer.

The law allows police, when in the process of investigating or enforcing other possible crimes, to demand proof of immigration status from those they suspect of not being documented US citizens.

A challenge of the controversial provision reached all the way to the US Supreme Court earlier this year, but the law was upheld on the grounds that it did not conflict with other federal statutes.

Critics of the Arizona law decried Bolton's decision.

Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project said the ruling "opens the door to racial profiling, wrongful detentions and arrests, putting everyone's civil rights at risk."

"Law enforcement resources are wasted when people are targeted based on their skin color, and our core American values of fairness and equality are compromised," Jadwat added in a statement.

In response to the looming policy, immigrant rights and Latino activists have initiated a program of education to help protect community members against the law.

The Associated Press reports:

An education campaign for illegal immigrants to remain largely silent when they’re pulled over by police is being put into practice in Arizona after a federal judge ruled that the most contentious part of the state’s immigration law can take effect.

Natally Cruz and Leticia Ramirez have been telling immigrants who are in the United States illegally, like themselves, that they should offer only their name and date of birth — and carry no documents that show where they were born.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled Tuesday that police can immediately start enforcing the law’s so-called ‘‘show me your papers’’ provision. It requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

Ramirez and Cruz had remained hopeful the provision would be blocked, but they were preparing by sending a message to communities of illegal immigrants that they should respectfully stand their ground against police.

‘‘We want to teach the community how to defend themselves, how to answer to police, how to be prepared, and to have confidence that they’re going to have help,’’ Ramirez said.

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