ACLU Launches App To Report Racial Profiling in Arizona

By Jude Joffe-Block
June 18, 2013

PHOENIX -- The ACLU of Arizona has put out a new app to collect reports of racial profiling in Arizona. It's part of the group's latest effort to challenge what's left of the state's immigration law.

The new mobile app helps people document abuses that could arise when police enforce the so-called "show me your papers" provision of SB 1070.

That provision requires police, while enforcing other laws, to check immigration status when they suspect someone is in the country illegally.

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the provision to take effect, but left the door open for plaintiffs to challenge the law again with evidence the immigration checks lead to prolonged detentions.

Opponents of the provision say it will lead to discriminatory policing.

The ACLU of Arizona says it has received 6,000 calls to its hotline since police in the state began enforcing the law in September.

ACLU of Arizona director Alessandra Soler says the new app will help others file complaints of possible incidents right away.

"It asks them for things like the officer number, as many details as possible about it so they can capture that and do it immediately on their phones," Soler said.

These reports of alleged abuses could be used by the ACLU in a future legal challenge to this provision of SB 1070.

The launch of the new app comes just weeks after a pivotal ruling in a class action racial profiling lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Last month, U.S. district judge Murray Snow ruled the MCSO could no longer detain people to check their immigration status if there was no probable cause they had committed any other crimes.

"We got a great decision from the judge that said, 'Look, police officers, Arpaio, should not be engaging in prolonged detention to check people's immigration status,'" Soler said. "And we believe that decision sends a very, very strong message to police departments that that they can't hide behind SB 1070 and use it as an excuse to violate people's rights."