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Tucson Officer Challenges Arizona Immigration Law

TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) - The first federal lawsuit stemming from Arizona's new immigration law that allows police to ask anyone for proof of legal U.S. residency was filed Thursday by a Tucson police officer who says the law is the result of "racial bias and anti-Hispanic beliefs and sentiments." Two similar complaints were filed in Phoenix.

Martin Escobar says he patrols the south side of Tucson, "in which Hispanics represent well over 50 percent of the residents," where "Spanish is commonly spoken" in an area "frequented by visitors from Mexico."

The law, SB 1070, was signed Tuesday by Gov. Jan Brewer. She and the law's supporters have maintained the law doesn't involve racial profiling or other illegal acts.

But Escobar maintains there are no "race-neutral criteria or basis to suspect or identify who is lawfully in the United States."

He also says the Tuscon Police Department has "no agreement or authorization" to "allow, instruct or order any city of Tucson employee, including any of its 1,100-plug authorized law enforcement officers, to make any inquiry of any individual concerning the person's immigration status or require proof of lawful presence in the United States."

He says the law violates the 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments, and wants it enjoined.

He is represented by Richard Martinez.

A Phoenix police officer filed a similar complaint in Phoenix Federal Court, saying the law would require him to engage in illegal racial profiling. And the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders sued in Phoenix Federal Court as well, saying Arizona's law "creates statewide immigration regulations independent from the existing federal system and clearly conflicts with federal immigration law."


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