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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  • Display: Sort:
    Should be a business traveler alert too. (none / 0) (#1)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 07:17:32 PM EST
    AZ is a big conference destination in the wintertime and in that case people do not often have the choice to go or not.

    This brings back too-recent memories (none / 0) (#2)
    by Cream City on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 07:37:01 PM EST
    of being abroad in an oh-so-civilized, western European country.  In a brief stop of the bus at an airport, I suddenly was told that, after all, I had time to get to a bathroom.  I was pointed to signs that made it seem but a few feet away and was told to hurry, so I made a mad dash for it -- without passport, i.d., cell phone, etc.  

    But I got lost in a maze of a building, got stopped, had no identification or means of contact, got manhandled a bit and yelled at a lot -- and I got  scared out of my mind.  Told to sit still while the officer checked on something or other, given a chance for it, I made a run for it back to the bus.  And I got away.  But I hardly could get out the words to explain what had happened, and it was quite a while before I could calm down.

    It was an absolutely terrifying moment, and the  abilities I had gained in the local language absolutely left me in a moment, too.  

    So guidelines from the ACLU and others are good and important, but I also can imagine how easily a stop could turn into a moment -- or more -- of terror for someone in our country.  There will be bad mistakes made; it is inevitable.  So I hope that Obama's DOJ doesn't mush around on this, too.  

    Europe (none / 0) (#4)
    by CST on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 10:38:51 AM EST
    is not the leftist-haven many make it out to be.  They are atrocious on civil liberties for the most part.  And don't get me started on the immigration debates...

    That being said, they have great health care!


    Yeah... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 10:52:35 AM EST
    when I get down thinking about our nanny police state I look across the pond and remember it could always be worse.

    It hit me when Arizona went all police state crazy that I had left my passport in the hotel everyday in Mexico...more worried about losing it than needing it.  Never got asked for papers.


    True -- I also had awful internet access (none / 0) (#11)
    by Cream City on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 03:05:06 PM EST
    or actually lack of it, owing to the anti-terrorism laws there, which make a supposedly forward-thinking country behind Mexico ten years ago, from our experience.  I had been promised good internet access to get my work done and to stay in touch with family here.  Instead, I had hardly any access, it was unreliable and intermittent and very costly and incredibly difficult to arrange -- and so I got hardly any work done.  Worse, my family had several major death and health crises, and I could hardly help at all (and was not fun to be around, worried as I was and without good ways to get word).

    That said, yes, they have good health care coverage.  The trip started with a dental disaster for me, and instead of seeing the sights, we spent the time finding a dentist with a bit of English.  He was excellent -- and the fix (temporary; major reconstruction ahead) was free.  I would have been glad to extol that experience far and wide . . . if the anti-terrorism laws did not preclude my ability to do said extolling on the internet. :-)


    Good Advise if You Speak English (none / 0) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 10:00:19 AM EST
    Not so hot for people who don't understand what the police are saying.  How do you ask if you are free to go if you you don't know what is being told to you and/or the officer doesn't understand what you are asking.

    In Arizona I assume not speaking English is reason enough for a search and/or detention.

    I have not the slightest doubt, (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 02:36:11 PM EST
    as an ACLU (state affiliate) board member, that this pamphlet is being produced and distributed in Spanish as well as in English.  Of course, your point is well taken as far as the immediate interaction of detainee and p/o is concerned.

    Any State (none / 0) (#6)
    by DaveCal on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 02:26:07 PM EST
    Why doesn't the ACLU issue this Alert for every state in the union?  If the ACLU wants to notify people of their rights, I don't know anyone who would have a problem with that. But why is it limited to Arizona?  Because the ACLU is being political.  It doesn't like the Arizona law and it's trying to make a political statement.  

    But the reality is this "Alert" could be used for any state in the union. Nothing in it is specific to Arizona.  Nothing in it speaks to any specifics of the Arizona Law, or points to any part of the law that is improper or unconstitutional.  

    My personal opinion, this is the kind of stuff that turns some people off to the ACLU.  I'd prefer less politics and more civil liberties focus.  This is politics.    

    ACLU Quotes (none / 0) (#8)
    by DaveCal on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 02:36:43 PM EST
    From the linked article:

    1.  "We have a long history of racial profiling in this state, and this is basically going to really exacerbate that problem," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.

    Interestingly, the law specifically prohibits racial profiling.  So how exactly will the law "exacerbate" that problem?

    2.  "There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about the law," Soler Meetze said. "It's a very complicated piece of legislation that gives police unprecedented powers to stop and question people about their identity and their citizenship. I think it is important for people to have this information easily accessible."

    Unprecedented powers to stop and question people?  NO, it doesn't give police ANY additional power to STOP anyone.  

    So here we have the ACLU spokesperson misinforming people about the law, while lamenting that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about the law.  

    Here's a thought, ACLU.  If you don't like misinformation about the law, start by refusing to provide misinformation about the law.  


    The Law (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 02:49:13 PM EST
    Yes, well "the law" specifically prohibits murder, theft, arson, rape, and a whole lot of other things. Yet the prisons are full of people who did not abide by "the law".

    So what is your point?  


    Don't be a jerk... (none / 0) (#12)
    by DaveCal on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 04:04:46 PM EST
    You're right, laws prohibit lots of things, but they don't stop lawbreakers from doing them.  So yes, if YOUR point is that someone can still engage in racial profiling, despite the prohibition, then you are correct.  

    But also irrelevent.  The same can be said about EVERY law.  And the same could have been said about the law in Arizona BEFORE this law was enacted.

    MY POINT, is that while the ACLU claims to abhor "misinformation", it is using misinformation to stir up fear.  The law will not "really exacerbate the problem" of racial profiling, as the ACLU spoeksperson claimed.  Nor does the law give the police "unprecendented powers to stop and question people about their identity and their citizenship", as the ACLU spokesperson claims.  

    So MY POINT is that the ACLU spokesperson, was full of crap !!  Lying and misinforming the public.  


    LoL (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 04:57:26 PM EST
    Jerk? Wow seems like you should look in the mirror. Not sure if you are aware, but most here abhor the AZ law, and most here are behind ACLU lawsuit against AZ.

    You may want to make a donation to them, because with your support of these kinds of unconstitutional and fascist laws, you may need them some day.


    What was your point? (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by DaveCal on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:06:20 PM EST
    So you respond to my post with a smarmy "what's your point", and you don't think you were being just a bit of a jerk?  

    Why don't you tell me what your point was?  


    Take a look ... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Peter G on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 02:40:48 PM EST
    I am quite sure you will find similar pieces available through and from both the national ACLU and most of its state affiliates, since as you say (assuming you're not just trashing the ACLU because you find that amusing) the advice is valid anywhere.  It is being issued for Arizona specifically because of the new law that takes effect (if not enjoined first) in that state later this month.  That law makes the need for people to be given (or reminded of) this advice much more acute in Arizona at this time than in most other places or at other times.  Or were you not really looking for a serious answer?

    Fair enough... (none / 0) (#13)
    by DaveCal on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 04:10:43 PM EST
    I can see Arizona's law as an impetus for the "alert".  but why not simply reissue the alert in every state?  

    And why put it out in the context of the ACLU provided misinformation?  

    It's a political move.  

    I think the ACLU would have done better simply to provide the alert to every state, and introduce it with a statement that the controversy over Arizona's new law made them feel as if they should remind people everywhere of their rights.  

    At least it would have been less political and more intellectually honest.  


    I'm sure the ACLU will be delighted (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 05:15:46 PM EST
    to have your advice about how to advance its agenda in defense of everyone's civil liberties impartially.  Should I assume, since you're so concerned about the ACLU's effectiveness, that you are an active member?

    Thanks (none / 0) (#17)
    by DaveCal on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 07:11:12 PM EST
    Another smarmy comment.  

    Thanks for the substantive discussion.

    You folks have a good night.