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ACLU Challenges Police Use Of ‘Papers Please’

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging how local police are enforcing the so-called "show me your papers" or "papers please" provision of Arizona's immigration enforcement law.

Aired 11/13/13 on KPBS News.

It's the first challenge of its kind since this section of Arizona's SB 1070 took effect more than one year ago.

It's the first challenge of its kind since this section of Arizona's SB 1070 took effect more than one year ago.

Even though the United States Supreme Court struck down much of SB 1070, it allowed this section, which requires police to check suspects' immigration status if they believe they are in the country illegally, to take effect.

The Supreme Court spelled out limits on how that section of the law could be applied by local police.

On Monday, the ACLU initiated a legal claim against the South Tucson Police Department, claiming the agency violated those rules over the summer in a case involving a 23-year-old immigrant named Alex Valenzuela.

"It involves a young man who was stopped really without cause and subject to a prolonged detention," said ACLU attorney James Lyall. "Both of which were mentioned by the Supreme Court that were issues that would not be permitted under the law."

The ACLU claims the South Tucson Police Department unlawfully arrested Valenzuela, and detained him solely to investigate his immigration status. A police officer drove Valenzuela to U.S. Border Patrol headquarters where he was detained for an additional five hours, according to the ACLU.

According to a notice of claim the ACLU sent to the agency on Monday, the organization is seeking $100,000 in damages, in addition to costs and attorneys' fees.

The South Tucson Police Department could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the ACLU and other civil rights groups are engaged in an ongoing lawsuit in which they are asking a judge to find the entire law unconstitutional.

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