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ACLU Issues Alert for Washington Residents on Traveling to Arizona

In response to civil liberties threats caused by the recent passage of Arizona’s racial profiling law, the ACLU of Washington issued a travel alert today informing Washington residents of their rights when stopped by law enforcement when traveling in Arizona.

The law, known as SB 1070, 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.

Although the law is not scheduled to go into effect until July 29, the ACLU is concerned that some law enforcement officers already are beginning to act on provisions of the law. Moreover, there has been a history of rampant racial profiling by law enforcement in Arizona, especially in Maricopa County, as well as a stated anti-immigrant policy of “attrition through enforcement” by Arizona lawmakers meant to create a hostile enough environment for Latinos and other people of color that they voluntarily leave the state.

“Travelers should be aware that under this law, people who look ‘foreign’ are more likely to be stopped for minor infractions like having a broken taillight or jaywalking and then asked for their ‘papers.’ This can happen if police believe, just by looking at them, that they could be in the country unlawfully,” said Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the ACLU of Washington.

In addition to the travel alert, the ACLU has made available materials on individuals’ rights if stopped by law enforcement in Arizona or other states as a result of SB 1070 or for any other reason. The materials include a downloadable card with instructions – applicable in any state – on coping with vehicle stops and questioning by police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or the FBI, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document about SB 1070.

The ACLU and other leading civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Arizona law in May. But until the law is struck down, the ACLU warns that individuals traveling in Arizona must be aware of their rights if stopped there.

The travel alert is available at

Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement and more information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show, can be found at:

Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement optimized for mobile devices is available at:

More information about the ACLU’s lawsuit, including information on co-counsel and plaintiffs, can be found at: