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ACLU app hopes to document Arizona law enforcement abuses

July 15, 2013|By Cindy Carcamo
  • Alex Melendez marches with Immigration rights supporters and members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles during a rally in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070, outside the Federal Court Building in downtown Los Angeles last summer.
Alex Melendez marches with Immigration rights supporters and members… (Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles…)

TUCSON -- A smartphone application that allows people to report law enforcement abuse in Arizona directly to the American Civil Liberties Union has gained instant popularity, with 3,000 people downloading the application in the first week of its launch.

The application is meant to focus on recording stories of racial profiling associated with Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law, known as SB 1070.

Since the ACLU unveiled the app on June 18, it has reported that at least 3,243 people have downloaded it -- mostly on Droid phones. Also, the ACLU of Arizona is investigating an estimated 50 complaints of abuse, Executive Director Alessandra Soler said.

In addition to documenting suspected abuses, the app provides users with legal information in English and Spanish about their rights when interacting with police. 

The application is part of a United Against 1070 campaign, which focuses on documenting the effect of what it calls the “show me your papers provision.”

Soler and other immigrant and civil rights activists contend the law has led to racial profiling.

In May, a federal judge ruled that the immigration enforcement policies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio violated the Constitution by using racial profiling.

“It is frankly impossible to enforce SB 1070 without using race or engaging in prolonged detentions, and the decision in the Arpaio litigation sends a strong message to police departments across the state that they cannot hide behind SB 1070 and use it as an excuse to violate people’s constitutional rights,” Soler said.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of SB 1070 but allowed the most controversial portion to take effect: Arizona can compel its law enforcement officials in most circumstances to check the status of someone they stop for lawful reasons if they suspect the person is in the country illegally.

Since the law was put in place, the organization has fielded over 6,000 calls, including calls from individuals with lawful status, crime victims and domestic violence survivors who were detained for prolonged periods, Soler said.


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