Passes Racial Profiling Law
Arizona Copycat Legislation Threatens Civil
Liberties And Interferes With Federal Immigration Law, Says ACLU
June 3, 2011
– The Alabama legislature last night passed a discriminatory law requiring
police to demand "papers" from people they stop who they
suspect are not authorized to be in the U.S. The extreme law, a copycat version of the
notorious law passed in Arizona,
invites racial profiling of Latinos and others based on how they look or talk,
violates the First Amendment and interferes with federal law. The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama
strongly condemns the legislature’s decision to pass this unconstitutional law
and warns of the serious threat it poses to the civil liberties and public
safety of all residents of Alabama.
law undermines our core American values of fairness and equality and will make
the rampant racial profiling of Latinos that is already going on in Alabama
that much worse, threatening the rights of citizens and non-citizens
alike," said Jared Shepherd, Law Fellow of the ACLU of Alabama.
"Requiring police to demand papers from people on the street is a tactic
commonly associated with totalitarian regimes, not robust democracies."
bills have been introduced in states across the country this legislative
season, but Alabama becomes one of only four states,
along with Utah, Indiana
and Georgia, to have passed
legislation modeled after Arizona’s
extreme law. The Alabama
law requires police to demand “papers” from people they stop whom they have
“reasonable suspicion” to believe are in the country unlawfully. To avoid
arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their “papers”
at all times. The major provisions of the bill would go into effect in September
status is not something you can accurately determine based on a brief
observation or interaction, but this law pretends otherwise. It invites profiling on the basis of race,
ethnicity, and language,” added Mr. Shepherd. “Subjecting people to harassment,
investigation and arrest because they are perceived to be foreign is contrary
to who we are as Americans.”
law creates new state-level immigration crimes and penalties, asserts sweeping
authority to detain and transport persons for suspected civil violations of
federal immigration law and prohibits protected speech and other expressive
activity by persons attempting to hire workers or persons seeking work. It also
makes it a state crime for immigrants to willfully fail to register with the
government and carry registration documents at all times.
law threatens the safety and security of all Alabama by diverting already limited
resources from law enforcement’s primary responsibility to provide protection
and promote public safety in the community. This ill-conceived law sends a
clear message to communities that the authorities are not to be trusted, making
them less likely to come forward as victims of or witnesses to crime,” said Mr.
ACLU and a coalition of civil right organizations filed a class action lawsuit
in May 2010 challenging Arizona’s
SB 1070, the discriminatory law that inspired Alabama’s bill, charging
that it invites the racial profiling of Latinos and others deemed to look or
sound “foreign,” violates the First Amendment and interferes with federal law.
The Department of Justice also filed a lawsuit challenging the law and a
federal appellate court recently upheld the Arizona district court decision to block the
most troubling provisions of the law.
stand committed to defending the civil liberties of all Americans from
unconstitutional laws that lead to racial profiling and ‘papers please’
harassment. The ACLU will continue to be on the front lines fighting
discriminatory laws like these across the country,” said Omar Jadwat, staff
attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.