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ACLU, South Tucson settle on racial profiling case

PHOENIX -- An attorney for the ACLU of Arizona says an agreement with the city of South Tucson over claims of racial profiling is only a portion of the ongoing battle against SB1070, the state's sweeping immigration legislation.

The organization on Monday evening came to a settlement with the city of South Tucson over its police department's enforcement of immigration laws, the first of its kind in Arizona following the passage of what critics call the ``show me your papers'' law.

The agreement aims to curb racial profiling and enforcement of federal immigration laws by South Tucson police.

It comes after the organization filed a notice of claim against the city in November alleging racial profiling of a student who was detained for hours after being questioned about his immigration status. A notice of claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. The student was turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol, where he was detained for hours before being released.

The settlement requires police to collect data to determine if officers racially profile. Officers will have to collect data involving pedestrian and car stops that result in a citation or arrest, including the perceived race of the person stopped. Officers will also be required to document extra information about all immigration-related inquiries.

``We think it's a big victory for the city of South Tucson the community of South Tucson. The heart of the settlement is a revised immigration policy that the city has now put into effect. It is probably the strongest in Arizona,'' ACLU attorney James Lyall said.

City officials concurred.

``We're very excited about having put this together. We believe that it's the type of agreement that is needed with most of, if not all, of the cities in Arizona relevant to all the controversy we're seeing with SB1070. And we hope that other communities will follow suit with what we consider to be a model,'' South Tucson city manager Luis Gonzales said.

Lyall says the ACLU plans to target other cities that may have practiced racial profiling in the wake of SB1070. The organization filed a notice of claim against Tucson in April, but the city has not responded, he said. Tucson has 60 days from the time of filing to respond.

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