PHOENIX (CN) – Arizona’s controversial immigration law “will cause widespread racial profiling and will subject many persons of color … to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures and arrests,” according to a federal class action filed by the ACLU, the NAACP and other national civil rights groups.
The new law requires local police to enforce immigration laws and allows them to search vehicles without a warrant if an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the occupants don’t have immigration papers.
The groups want the court to block Arizona Senate Bill 1070, signed by Gov. Janice Brewer on April 23, from going into effect on July 28.
They say the law is unconstitutional and “will create a legal regime regulating and restricting immigration and punishing those whom Arizona deems to be in violation of immigration laws.”
The law will also “cause widespread racial profiling and will subject many persons of color — including countless U.S. citizens, and non-citizens who have federal permission to remain in the United States — to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures and arrests,” the groups claim.
The plaintiffs include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Coalicíon De Derechos Humanos, the Muslim American Society, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International.
The Muslim American Society claims that its members, some of whom are immigrants, will be racially profiled “based on their foreign appearance and clothing, such as headscarves.” It also claims it won’t be able to educate the Muslim community in Arizona because its members “will be too afraid to attend meetings and organized activities and events.”
Jesus Cuauhtémoc Villa, a New Mexico resident and an Arizona State University anthropology student, claims that he may be subject to arrest because as a New Mexico resident he was not required to have proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status to get a driver’s license. Villa claims he does not have a U.S. passport and does not want to risk losing his birth certificate by carrying it with him.
The plaintiffs say the Arizona immigration law “cannot be enforced without improperly singling out racial and ethnic minorities, including many U.S. citizens and persons authorized by the federal government to be present in the U.S., for stops, interrogations, arrests, and detentions.”
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio allegedly uses training materials stating that “the fact that an individual has no English skills or speaks English poorly is a factor indicating that an individual is not ‘lawfully present’ in the United States.”
The civil rights organizations demand a declaration that the Arizona immigration law is unconstitutional and an order blocking its enforcement. This is the fifth lawsuit filed against the Arizona immigration law in Federal Court.
The class is represented by Anne Lai of the ACLU Foundation of Arizona.