Jovana Renteria and Jessica Davenport are both Americans born inthe United States. But Renteria is Hispanic and Davenport is not. The two womenbelieve that explains why Renteria’s identity and citizenship werescrutinized more closely than Davenport’s following their arrestsApril 25 on suspicion of blocking Central Avenue during a protestof Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Senate Bill 1070. SB 1070 protest in Phoenix The circumstances of their arrests were identical. Both decidedbeforehand to get arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
Bothwere sitting on the pavement and refused to move when ordered bythe police. And both intentionally carried no form ofidentification. Yet their accounts of the 18 hours they spent in custody beforebeing released the next day suggest Phoenix police officers andImmigration and Customs Enforcement officers took extra steps toverify Renteria’s identity and citizenship, but were quick toaccept that Davenport, an Arizona State University student withfair skin and blond hair, was an American. Phoenix police and ICE officials say ethnicity plays no role in theway prisoners are booked or screened at the jail. The disparate treatment described by the two women, however,highlights one of the main legal arguments of opponents of SB 1070:that the law violates the Constitution by leading — without anyother influencing factors — to heightened scrutiny of Latinos,including those who are U.S.
citizens and legal immigrants, bypolice officers trying to identify people in the country illegally. It also provides a possible glimpse at what could happen on alarger scale should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold all or parts ofthe law when it rules in late June. “This seems to me to be the logical consequence of SB 1070, whichpretty clearly was aimed at the unauthorized immigration populationfrom a particular country,” said Gabriel “Jack” Chin, a Universityof California-Davis School of Law professor who studied SB 1070while teaching at the University of Arizona. Capacitive Android Tablet pc
“SB 1070 was in somefundamental way about Mexican immigration and so it’s certainly notsurprising that law-enforcement agencies responsible for enforcingSB 1070 would focus on the population it was meant to deal with.” Renteria, 32, is a community activist for Puente, a Phoenix-basedgroup that advocates for immigrants. She was born in Phoenix and identifies herself as third-generationChicana. Her great-grandparents came from Mexico and Spain. At thePhoenix Police Department’s central-booking facility, she said shegave officers her name and date of birth, as requested. But sinceshe wasn’t carrying any identification, officers took her into aroom and electronically scanned her thumbprints before placing herin a cell while they apparently tried to verify her identity. Powerful Portable Speakers Manufacturer
At one point, Renteria said, she heard the officers say herthumbprints had come up “negative” and they were going to book herunder the name “Jane Doe.” “They wanted to book me under Jane Doe when I actually gave them my(first) name, my last name and my birth date,” Renteria said. Renteria said she thought that it was odd that she did not show upin the system because she used to work in the pharmaceuticalindustry and had provided her fingerprints in the past for abackground check. After being fingerprinted again, Renteria said, she waited morethan two hours in the cell until she was finally transferred to theFourth Avenue Jail in downtown Phoenix. Police handed her an arrest report showing her name, date of birthand her charges. China Capacitive Android Tablet pc
At the Fourth Avenue Jail, Renteria said, federalImmigration and Customs Enforcement officers asked her where shewas born along with the first three numbers of her Social Securitynumber. Renteria said she refused to answer out of protest. “I believed they should not be in the county jail, anyways, so Irefused to give that information,” Renteria said. Besides, she said, she had shown them the arrest record with hername and Social Security number.
Meanwhile, Davenport was also being processed by police. LikeRenteria, the 20-year-old, who was born in Mesa and is mostly ofIrish and English descent, was not carrying ID when she wasarrested. But her booking went more smoothly. She said Phoenix police didn’t scan her thumbprints and neverplaced her in a cell.
She said Phoenix police simply verified heridentity by radioing for her driver’s license number after sheprovided her name, date of birth and other personal information asrequested. At the Fourth Avenue Jail, Davenport said she was prepared to tellICE officers she was born in Mesa after hearing them ask some ofthe Hispanic protesters where they were born. But she said the ICEofficers never asked her that question. “They were calling us up one by one, and they asked me for my nameand the last four digits of my Social, and I was never asked whatcity I was born in,” Davenport said.
Standard police protocol Officer James Holmes, a spokesman for the Phoenix PoliceDepartment, said officers follow a standard protocol when bookingsuspects who have been arrested. They do not discriminate orprofile based on race or ethnicity, he said. He said that during booking, suspects are asked where they wereborn. If they answer somewhere outside the U.S., they are asked ifthey are a U.S.
citizen. “We ask that of everybody. It doesn’t matter if you are Hispanic,Black, White,” Holmes said. “It doesn’t make any difference.
It’s astandard question that’s on our booking form.” Holmes said police conduct thumbprint screenings when suspectsarrive without identification and police can’t verify theiridentity. The prints are run through a nationwide database system. “The thumbprint goes through the fingerprint database to see if wehave ever had any contact with you or whether you have ever beenimprinted before,” he said. Holmes could not explain why Davenport’s thumbprints were notscanned since she was not carrying an ID.
“They should have,” he said. But he said in cases where police are able to verify a suspect’sidentity by looking up their driver’s license number, “then thereis no need” to conduct a thumbprint check. He said any differences in the way the protesters were treateddepended on their individual circumstances and the answers theygave, not their ethnicity. “They were treated according to their arrests,” Holmes said.
“Itall depends on the circumstances of their arrest, the informationthey provided and their identification.” He could not explain why Renteria was held for several hours inpolice custody, but he said verifying a prisoner’s identitysometimes takes time. Amber Cargile, a spokeswoman for Immigration and CustomsEnforcement, would not agree to an interview. She issued a written statement that said all suspects booked intothe jail are screened by ICE officers regardless of their race,ethnicity or language as part of the federal Criminal AlienProgram, which is designed to identify and deport immigrants whopose a public threat. “The questions posed during the screening may include where theindividual was born and their country of citizenship,” thestatement said. ICE officers at the jail question suspects to determine theircitizenship and whether they should be held for possibleimmigration enforcement later, she said.
She said the protesters arrested during the April 25 demonstrationwere screened by ICE officers, who determined they were U.S.citizens, she said. Protesters’ experiences vary Renteria and Davenport were part of a group of six protesters whomade plans to be arrested the same day the Supreme Court heardarguments in a federal lawsuit against Senate Bill 1070, most ofwhich has been put on hold by two lower courts. Renteria was among four Hispanics arrested. The others also are allU.S. citizens born in this country: Sandra Castro Solis, 24, ofPhoenix; Danielle Nieto, 31, of Tempe; and Tony Verdugo, 22, ofTempe.
Verdugo, an ASU student who carried his U.S. passport, wasthe only one of the four with identification. According to their accounts, some of the other Hispanics arrestedalso experienced increased scrutiny by police and Immigration andCustoms Enforcement officers, though to a lesser extent thanRenteria. All of the Hispanics said they had their thumbprints scanned sothat police could verify their identity, including Verdugo, eventhough he was carrying his passport.
Davenport was one of two non-Hispanics protesters arrested. Theother was Amy McMullen, 52, of Gold Canyon. McMullen had herArizona driver’s license on her when she was arrested. Davenport and McMullen described other instances where policeappeared to give them more favorable treatment than the Hispanicmembers of the group.
After they were arrested and placed in a van, they said policeofficers repeatedly addressed Davenport and McMullen first beforetalking to the others. Facing misdemeanor counts On Thursday, the six protesters had their first hearing in PhoenixMunicipal Court. They were among hundreds who marched through downtown beforeunfurling a large anti-SB 1070 banner in the middle of CentralAvenue and blocking Phoenix’s largest thoroughfare for half an hourduring rush hour in front of a Homeland Security Building thathouses ICE’s immigration detention center. The six protesters were charged with misdemeanor counts ofdisorderly conduct-fighting and blocking a public street. The caseshave been continued to June 13.
Prosecutors are offering to drop the more severe disorderly-conductcharge if the protesters plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge ofobstructing a public street and agree to a sentence of 12 monthsprobation and 1 day in jail, which they have already served.