Training Video for Immigration Arizona Law Takes Heat
Hispanic civil rights groups say the video encourages racial profiling.
July 2, 2010 -- In a training video released to Arizona law enforcement officers Thursday, state officials repeatedly discourage racial profiling when enforcing the state's new immigration law — but some Hispanic civil rights groups say some of the instructions constitute a recipe for racial profiling.
In the video, factors such as "dress," "traveling in tandem" and "significant difficulty communicating in English" are given as clues that a person may be an illegal immigrant.
"This list has obviously been drawn to legitimize racial profiling," said Foster Maer, senior litigator for LatinoJustice. "I don't believe the police will approach white people and ask them for their papers because of the way they're dressed."
The legislation, signed into law April 23 by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, requires police to determine a person's immigration status if they are stopped, detained or arrested and there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally.
The law is facing five legal challenges in federal court.
The training video was created by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board and will be made available — not required — to all 15,000 law enforcement officers in the state.
Levi Bolton of the Arizona Police Association, who helped produce the training, said they listened to critics of the law, as well as federal immigration officials to put together the list. He said each is simply one factor that can contribute to the overall determination of a person's legal status.
"I'm wondering if people have stopped listening and emotion is carrying the furor," Bolton said.
More than 10 minutes of the video warns officers that racial profiling will not be tolerated.
Officials in the video warn officers they'll be watched closely when they begin enforcing the immigration law July 29.
Lyle Mann, executive director of the training board, warns officers that opponents of the bill will set up "field tests" to trap officers abusing the law.
"You should expect to be videotaped and audiotaped. You should expect your reports to be examined in a way they haven't been examined before," attorney Beverly Ginn says in the video.
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