TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The American Civil Liberties Union's Arizona affiliate has filed a legal claim against the Tucson Police Department over the Oct. 8 detention of two immigrants during a traffic stop.
Protests broke out over the traffic stop outside Southside Presbyterian Church when police called border patrol after the two men inside the vehicle could not provide identification.
The ACLU calls this provision of SB1070 the "show me your papers" law, and said race is the only reason police pulled over Agustin Reyes and Arturo Robles.
Police said the men had been pulled over for a busted license plate light.
But the ACLU insists it was not a routine stop.
"That's why we're filing a notice of claim and that's why we're prepared to litigate," said Alessandra Soler, executive director of ACLU Arizona.
The claim, a precursor to a possible lawsuit, demands $250,000 for each man and alleges the detention violated their constitutional rights, including protections against unreasonable seizures.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor has said SB1070 requires his officers to call border patrol in any stop that involves undocumented immigrants.
"I am against SB1070 -- I don't agree with the purpose of it -- but that doesn't mean I get to ignore the law," Villasenor said.
"He, as the ultimate chief of the police department, should be doing what's in the best interest of the community and should be doing what's in the best interest of building trust between the community and the police," Soler said.
Soler said SB1070 does the exact opposite and that by threatening legal action, the ACLU is sending a message: Change the practice or put the police department at risk.
Tucson Police and the city will have 60 days to respond to the claim and decide whether to negotiate or deny, which would invite a lawsuit.
The ACLU has also gone after the City of South Tucson for a similar case. Both parties say they are trying to work out an agreement.