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Latinos Continue To Be (Illegally) Told, 'Show Me Your Papers!'

A number of states have passed 'Show me your papers' laws, but it's not legal to enforce them until the courts weigh in. That's not stopping police.

Saul Razcon was driving on Tuscon’s I-10 when he was stopped by the Arizona Highway patrol in August 2010, ostensibly for a broken window. He was asked for his driver’s license. However, the officer proceeded to ask for the license of the passenger driving with him in his car. Then, he asked the three young girls who were present with them in the backseat – aged 11, 13 and 17 – if they had “papers.”

Jamie Juarez’s stepdaughter’s friend was scared and simply did what a good girl should do: she told a highway patrol officer the truth when she was asked questions. As a result, she was deported back to Mexico along with her friend.

ICE officials were called to the scene and proceeded to detain the three young girls. If Jamie Juarez had not rushed in a panic to the scene and presented his stepdaughter's papers, she might have been deported. After being detained in an ICE facility, his stepdaughter’s friends, who were sisters, were both sent to Sonora, Mexico.

Juarez, shaken and angry, told AlterNet that “Saul was stopped for next to nothing. The officer told me that he didn't know if they were ‘terrorists or criminals.’ This greatly offended me and made me think that this man was racist and shouldn't be working as a police officer. I assume he won't be reprimanded, because Arizona is plagued with problems like these.”

In a similar gripping account that also took place alongside “show me your papers” legislation being passed, on May 24, a citizen was driving Maximo Jarquin, an undocumented construction worker, to the store in Crossvile, Alabama. A police officer pulled the car over for a broken tail light, but demanded that Jarquin show his “papers,” even though he was not driving. Jarquin was arrested, denied access to a phone call for four days, shipped to a detention facility in Pennsylvania for six weeks (which was quite possibly a for-profit facility; see the “ business of detention”), and finally deported to Mexico.

“Maximo was our sole provider and the father of our two children, as well as one I have on the way,” a teary-eyed three-months pregnant Tiffany Sadler told AlterNet. “We were forced to lose our home and move in with my mother.”

Jose Contreras has owned El Sol, a Mexican grocery store in Albertville, Alabama, which provides a variety of services to the immigrant community, for the last 14 years. Contreras says business has significantly decreased as of late, but he doesn't attribute this to the economy. Instead, he says that a climate of fear has been constructed in Albertville leading to as much as a fifth of the immigrant community fleeing the area.

Contreras told AlterNet that Albertville has been “pilfered” by the police, particularly through a police checkpoint which has resulted in scores of deportations. “The checkpoint has been a nuisance to our community for the last two years, but since HB 56, I've heard of many more incidents of police detaining and sometimes deporting immigrants, about three to four accounts a week.”

In Georgia, police are detaining vehicles and demanding papers be presented as well. A group of Mexican refugee applicants were driving home from work on June 21 when a Polk county police officer detained a van with 15 people in it, in spite of no traffic infraction being indicated. The officer demanded to see their “green cards” and decided to let them off on a “warning,” threatening them by saying, “I am letting you go now. But, if I ever catch you on this road again, I am taking you in.”

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