ArticlesVolume 1, Issue 2 (2012)

Racial Profiling Legalized in Arizona

Citation:1 COLUM. J. RACE & L. 168 (2012)


In 2010, Arizona enacted S.B. 1070, which, by its very terms, necessitates racial profiling. The definition of racial profiling is “the reliance on race, skin color and/or ethnicity as an indication of criminality, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause, except when part of a description of a suspect, and said description is timely, reliable, and geographically relevant.” Although the new statute says that law enforcement officers “may not consider race, color or national origin in the enforcement of this section,” that language is followed by the words, “except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.” Indeed, S.B. 1070 effectively requires the consideration of race, color and national origin because it is unfathomable how a law enforcement official could avoid considering those factors in deciding whom to investigate under the new law. Even the most well-meaning officer cannot possibly determine whether an individual may be undocumented without making judgments based on apparent race, color and national origin.