Shortly after the law was passed in May, the ACLU brought a legal challenge to it with several other civil rights organizations. One of the plaintiffs in our challenge is Jim Shee, a U.S.-born 70-year-old American citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent who has already been stopped twice by local law enforcement officers in Arizona and asked to produce his “papers.” If the Arizona police are already exhibiting this behavior, it’s pretty easy to see that this extreme law, which practically begs police to engage in racial profiling, will lead to unnecessary police harassment of citizens based solely on the fact that they may look or sound like they are foreign. How else would police form a suspicion that someone was not in the U.S. legally?
The law has been condemned by high ranking law enforcement officials, including the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, who know first hand that the law will destroy the public trust necessary for police to do their jobs. People who are afraid that they will be questioned and forced to show papers because of the way they look will be much less likely to report crimes or serve as witnesses. Similarly, already stretched police officers will have to spend their time investigating whether someone is here legally rather than solving violent and other very serious crimes.