The travel advisory says the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration could lead to problems for some tourists. Officials said they are concerned some law enforcement officers may already be acting on provisions of the law.
Arizona's law (Full Text), which is expected to take effect July 29, gives law enforcement personnel the power to check the immigration status of suspects they have stopped for other reasons, if there is a reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally. It specifically bars law enforcement from racial profiling.
But that language in the law may not protect visitors, ACLU officials said.
"California residents need to know their rights and the dangers of traveling to Arizona before setting foot there," said Hector Villagra, legal director of the ACLU/SC. "This disturbing new law makes it much more likely that a police officer will demand a person deemed 'foreign' to present 'papers' for the smallest of infractions, as simple as a broken tail-light or jaywalking."
According to the travel advisory, Arizona officials have worked to create an environment hostile to Latinos and other people of color to encourage them to leave the state.
A post on the ACLU/SC site details the advisory and includes a .pdf download of the organization's Know Your Rights brochure. The materials include a downloadable card with instructions, applicable in any state, on coping with vehicle stops and questioning by police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or the FBI.
"Our goal is the protect Californians from illegal harassment by law enforcement," Villagra said. "California is a state with deep immigrant roots and a rich history. We are not all one color or one creed. Many of us fit a racial profile that police in Arizona will inevitably use to enforce an extreme and discriminatory law.
"That's why every Californian should know that under Arizona's misguided laws, they will likely experience racial profiling and unlawful detention."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has repeatedly defended the law, insisting that racial profiling will not be tolerated in the state. In a statement last week, she specifically said the state was safe for tourists and noted that "Arizona's immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and constitutional."
"They mirror what has been federal law in the United States for many decades, and they have built-in and clear protections for civil rights," Brewer said. "Arizonans are some of the most hospitable and generous people in the world, and we welcome visitors to share our incomparable natural beauty. Our cultures and our trade are intertwined, and so must be our respect for the rule of law."