Holiday Travel Alert: Know Your Rights In Arizona
The ACLU has put out a travel alert for Arizona in advance of July 4th, warning of racial profiling stops and arrests.
American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Arizona, New Mexico and 26 other states put out the warnings in advance of the Fourth of July weekend. The Arizona chapter has received reports that law enforcement officers are already targeting some people even though the law doesn't take effect until July 29, its executive director said. The alerts are designed to teach people about their rights if police stop and question them.
Check out the ACLU alert here. [More...]
Things to know:
If you encounter law enforcement officers while travelling in Arizona, remember that all persons within the boundaries of the United States, regardless of immigration status, are protected by the Constitution.
Racial and ethnic profiling is illegal. An officer who stops you because of physical features or limited English ability is violating the Constitution. The officer must be able to articulate a reason for a “lawful stop or detention.”
Your rights and what to do. First of all, stay calm. Then,
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, you have the right to calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why. (My emphasis. I'll add, if after they tell you that you are free to leave, they ask permission to ask a few more questions, politely refuse. If you are free to leave, do so.)
You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. However, under state law in Arizona and some other states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself. If you are the driver of a vehicle, upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently in the car or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect your rights later in court. If you are the driver of a vehicle and an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
As I told the TL kid when he was young, if the police stop him and ask him to waive his rights so they can search his car, he should respond, "I'm sorry, Sir (or Officer), but I only waive the flag." I told him he might get roughed up or arrested for being a smart alec , but at least he'd know he did the right thing. He remembers it to this day.
More from the ACLU:
If you are questioned about your immigration status:
You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or any other officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)
If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent. Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.
How sad it is for America, that we have sunk to the level where we advise people to keep their papers with them at all times in case of a police check.
If you feel your rights have been violated:
Write down everything you can remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses.
Spread the word, and if you can, send some thanks to the ACLU, they deserve our contributions.
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