Shortly after signing Arizona’s draconian immigration bill into law, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) attempted to ease concerns about civil rights abuses, stating that she “will NOT tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona.” The truth is, she already is.
Arizona’s 3TV News reports that a U.S. citizen Latino commercial truck driver was pulled over at a weight scale check spot and handcuffed and detained at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Phoenix until his wife came and provided both of their birth certificates. Abdon, who did not want to use his last name, said that though he provided his drivers license and his Social Security Number, police officers wanted more proof that he was legally present in the country. Abdon believes that he was ultimately “targeted for his race and forced to provide his birth certificate.” Watch the 3TV report (starts at 2:16):
The City of Phoenix Police Department is enrolled in ICE’s 287(g) Task Force Officers program which allows local Phoenix police to enforce immigration law — as all Arizona police will soon be required to do. Abdon isn’t the first Latino to fall victim to the deputization of immigration law and he certainly won’t be the last once Arizona’s new law goes into effect.
Maricopa County, in which Phoenix is located, is all too familiar with the problem of racial profiling. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is subject of a Department of Justice investigation into rampant allegations of racial profiling and discrimination and has been named in 2,700 lawsuits. In North Carolina, researchers found that 287(g)’s have “created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity” in communities across the state. According to a report by the ACLU, racial profiling in Gwinnet County, Georgia has been exacerbated by the 287(g) program. The ACLU received complaints from drivers, pedestrians, and Gwinnett community members showing that police officers are targeting immigrants and people of color for stops, searches, and interrogations.
A representative at ICE told 3TV that the incident was “standard operating procedure.” According to the spokesperson, the agents “needed to verify Abdon was in the country legally and it is not uncommon to ask for someone’s birth certificate.” Abdon’s wife however, has a different take, stating, “It doesn’t feel like it’s a good way of life, to live with fear, even though we are okay, we are legal…still have to carry documents around.”