Nov 12, 2013 11:19 PM by Rebecca Taylor

ACLU putting South Tucson Police on notice

TUCSON - It has been dubbed the 'show me your papers law'. Recent community protests and a court ruling striking down additional sections of SB-1070 has thrust Arizona back in the spotlight.

The controversial law is once again being challenged. This time by the ACLU of Arizona who says the South Tucson Police Department is violating constitutional rights by enforcing it.

A 23-year-old man Alex Valenzuela says he was illegally arrested and detained for more than five hours. "I felt racially profiled," says Valenzuela.

Valenzuela, a dreamer under the Deferred Action Program, says on July 13th he was a passenger in a parked car, doing nothing wrong.

ACLU attorney James Lyall says, "He was approached by a South Tucson officer who began questioning him about his status and demand ID."

Lyall says Valenzuela showed multiple proof of ID, when under the law he didn't have to. And still the stop was extended according to Lyall.

"First our client was approached and detained for no lawful basis whatsoever, and then after detaining him, his detention was extended for a significant amount of time, solely to investigate his status," says Lyall.

On Valenzuela's behalf the American Civil Liberties Union sent a notice of claim to South Tucson Police.

News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor reached out to city officials, attorney Andrea de Castillo tells us, "The city is concerned about the civil rights and immigration rights of all citizens. We're aware of the ACLU's claim, the city hasn't yet been formally served. We take it very seriously, but it's premature at this point to comment further."

Castillo says she was appointed two months ago, before the ACLU's claim. She says the City of South Tucson wants to ensure they're in compliance with immigration laws.

A second controversial stop happened inside the Tucson city limits. On October 8th, TPD pulled over a vehicle because the license plate light wasn't turned on. Border Patrol was called when two men were unable to show proof of citizenship.

On Wednesday, Tucson's Mayor and Council will hold a study session to discuss SB-1070 and how police enforce it.

Valenzuela says he hopes something gives because entire communities, including victims of crimes, and witnesses are afraid of the police.

"I don't think it's fair for communities to live in fear," Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela says he was ultimately released because someone brought his school records and diploma to the Border Patrol headquarters.


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