ACLU Fights ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Arrest

     PHOENIX (CN) – An Arizona woman spent five days in a Border Patrol jail after a traffic stop, when a sheriff’s deputy told her he “was not interested” in her visa status, the ACLU claims in court.
     Maria del Rosario Cortes Camacho sued Pinal County sheriff’s Officers Chad Lakosky and Kristina Stoltz on Thursday in Federal Court.
     Cortes was arrested just after Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” law, S.B. 1070, took effect. The ACLU claims the arrested was unconstitutional.
     Officer Lakosky pulled her over in Eloy, Ariz., in September 2012, for a cracked windshield.
     Lakosky asked for her papers and Cortes told him that “she had a pending U-visa application, a copy of which was in her glove compartment. Deputy Lakosky responded that he was not interested in those papers,” according to the complaint.
     Officer Stoltz arrived, handcuffed her, and took her to a Border Patrol office, where she spent five days, separated from her children.
     “Lakosky and Stoltz unlawfully detained Ms. Cortes without any additional justification after the original purpose of the stop was completed, and beyond a reasonable time required to issue her citation, solely on the basis of her suspected or actual immigration status, and unlawfully arrested her by involuntarily transporting her under restraint from the location of the stop,” the complaint states.
     Cortes was cited for a cracked windshield, driving without a license, and failing to show proof of insurance. Lakosky’s report said Cortes was “cited and released,” with no mention that she was arrested and taken to the Border Patrol, according to the complaint.
     The U.S. Supreme Court found in June 2012 that it could not determine whether Arizona’s S.B. 1070 encroached on federal supremacy, since it had not yet taken effect.
     “We have argued all along that this law encourages abuse, particularly based on racial profiling of individuals who in the course of a routine stop are presumed to be undocumented simply because of the color of their skin or the way they speak,” ACLU attorney Christine P. Sun said in a statement Thursday. “We continue to find cases of abuse stemming from this law, so we will continue to challenge it.”
     Cortes was encouraged to apply for a U-visa after her former husband subjected her to domestic violence by punching her in the face and choking her in front of her children. She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Her visa was approved after she was jailed by the Border Patrol.
     “At no time during the stop did these defendants have either probable cause or reasonable suspicion that Ms. Cortes was involved in criminal activity and at no time was Ms. Cortes told that she was under arrest for any reason,” the complaint states.
     The lawsuit is not the first to question the legality of S.B. 1070’s “show me your papers” provision. The ACLU and City of South Tucson reached a settlement earlier this year after a student accused the city of racial profiling.
     Cortes seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Fourth Amendment violations.
     The Border Patrol changed its name to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but is still known, even by its own officers, as the Border Patrol.

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