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Arizona immigrants craft response to 'show me your papers' law

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Arizona police can start enforcing the law's "show me your papers" provision. Arizona immigrant rights groups suggest that illegal immigrants carry no documents.

By Felicia Fonseca and Jacques BilleaudAssociated Press / September 19, 2012

In 2010, Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies, left, check the shoes of a suspect arrested during a crime suppression sweep in Phoenix. A judge in Arizona on Sept. 18, 2012 ruled that police can immediately start enforcing the most contentious section of the state's immigration law, the so-called "show me your papers" provision.

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

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Phoenix

An education campaign for illegal immigrants to remain largely silent when they're pulled over by police is being put into practice in Arizona after a federal judge ruled that the most contentious part of the state's immigration law can take effect.

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Natally Cruz and Leticia Ramirez have been telling immigrants who are in the United States illegally, like themselves, that they should offer only their name and date of birth — and carry no documents that show where they were born.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled Tuesday that police can immediately start enforcing the law's so-called "show me your papers" provision. It requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

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Ramirez and Cruz had remained hopeful the provision would be blocked, but they were preparing by sending a message to communities of illegal immigrants that they should respectfully stand their ground against police.

"We want to teach the community how to defend themselves, how to answer to police, how to be prepared, and to have confidence that they're going to have help," Ramirez said.

Bolton's decision is the latest milestone in a two-year legal battle over the requirement.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the provision in June on the grounds that it doesn't conflict with federal law. Opponents responded by asking Bolton to block the requirement on different grounds, arguing its enforcement would lead to systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos. Bolton said early this month she wouldn't block the provision.

A coalition of civil rights groups is awaiting a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on their latest effort to prevent the questioning requirement from taking effect.

A hotline operated by civil rights advocates recently has been fielding calls from people wanting to know what their rights are if officers question their immigration status.

Lydia Guzman, leader of the civil rights group Respect-Respeto, said additional volunteers are being sought to answer calls and document reports of abuses. If a police agency plans a special immigration patrol, volunteers armed with video cameras will be sent there to capture footage of traffic stops, Guzman said.

Arizona lawmakers passed the law in 2010 amid voter frustration with the state's role as the busiest illegal entry point in the country. Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona's law.

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