Earlier this week Arizona's controversial SB 1070 law went into effect, allowing police officers to conduct immigration checks on any individual they stop.
Immigrant rights activists, having protested and fought the legislation in court for two years, have now geared up to deal with its impact on the ground.
A bilingual hotline, hosted by ACLU of Arizona and established by immigrant rights activist Lydia Guzman to advise on issues around SB 1070, has already been inundated with calls from concerned parties.
ACLU of Arizona executive director Alessandra Soler told Salon Friday that she expects in the next couple of weeks that calls will come in reporting stops and detentions by police. As of now, the hotline, which launched in June, has received more than 3,500 calls from people seeking advice on preemptive action.
"People are asking very smart questions," she said, "such as whether a passenger in a car needs to carry identification." But there is concern that police officers might stop a car for a driving violation and conduct immigration checks on all passengers.
Soler explained that the hotline has thus been used to spread "know your rights" information. She added that in past weeks many hotline callers have asked for attorney referrals and advice on how to prepare power of attorney forms (such that individuals can refer to legal representatives if stopped by police and asked to "show their papers"). Immigrant rights groups and church groups, she noted, have been preparing power of attorney packets for this very reason.
Just two days since SB 1070 went into effect, it is too early to tell whether fears over increased incidents of illegal detention and racial profiling under the provision will be realized. But as the hotline already evidences, the law's enactment alone has spread distress in the border state.