Tucson Police Officer sues to stop SB1070, but not all officers agree

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View the complaint filed by Officer Martin Escobar

The first legal challenge to SB1070, the controversial new Arizona law designed to deal with the illegal immigrant issue, has been filed in federal court in Tucson by a Tucson police officer.

Martin Escobar argues in his complaint that, in his experience, there is no way "race neutral" criteria can be utilized to determine if someone he encounters in his daily routine is in this country illegally.  The new law requires officers to determine the status of anyone they come into "lawful" contact with during their day.

Escobar says he works in the Tucson Police Southside Division, where he claims more than 50% of the residents are Hispanic.  He also cites figures from the University of Arizona that more than 24-million Mexican citizens visit Arizona legally each year.

The complaint reads, "In his experience as a law enforcment officer, skin color and/or physical features does not provide any race neutral critieria or basis to suspect or identify who is lawfully in the United States."

Escobar, who became a U.S. Citizen as a young adult, says he's been a victim of racial profiling at least once, and feels SB 1070 will put many other mexicans in the same position, "I remember as a young kid down on the south of Tucson getting stopped by the Border Patrol."

The complaint cites numerous activities whereby someone may suspect a particular person is here illegally, but he claims he could not determine that without utilizing race-based judgment or stereotyping.

Escobar argues SB1070 is the product of "racial bias aimed specifically at Hispanics, is unlawful, results in impermissible deprivations of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution."

He argues the new law violates six components of the federal constitution.

He asks the court to stop implementation of the new law.

"The fact that he identifies himself as a Tucson Police Officer in that lawsuit gives everyone the perception that we all agree with his stance," Officer larry lopez, also a tucson police officer, and the head of the tucson police officers association, has concerns about a member of law enforcement publicly fighting a law they're required to protect. He says not every officer agrees with escobar's stance on sb 1070.

Though he's fighting to stop the the law before it is implemented, he says he'll still enforce it because he has to, "There's times that I made arrests that I didn't think it was right.  I didn't think it was just, but because law applied, I had to do it."