Arizona Police Officer Claims He Can ‘Smell’ Undocumented People After Latest Racial Profiling Attack

Arizona Police Officer Claims He Can ‘Smell’ Undocumented People After Latest Racial Profiling Attack

“I got out of my patrol car and approached the side of the van,” Smith wrote in the statement police report. “The passenger window had rolled down and I immediately smelled an odor that matched the smuggling of illegal aliens from past experience. Once I got to the passenger window I saw several people in the van and the driver looked scared. ”

This led Smith to assume they had all just crossed the country from the Mexican border. Smith not only questioned the driver and fined him for driving without insurance with a suspended license, but warned federal agents of the consequences he believed would occur if they failed to show up. Mirror reported.

“I told the (ICE) Agent that the illegal aliens at the scene would be released to walk off the highway and what that would look like,” Smith wrote in the incident report. “The officer said that if we found out that any of the individuals were serious criminals, they would come out and get them.”

A second DPS officer then fingerprinted the 17 men in the van, but no data emerged. They were then told to walk away from the freeway to an exit on Ray Road, the report said.

While under Arizona law, SB1070Law enforcement officials are required to try and determine one’s immigration status, the use of “smell” is not an appropriate or sensible factor to use and is considered a race-based factor, according to DPS.

“You can’t smell someone’s immigration status,” Billy Peard, an immigrant rights advocate and former attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona, told the Mirror. “You are not supposed to take fingerprints because of a civil violation, there is no reason for that,” he added. “You are only allowed to take fingerprints as an incident to arrest. The troopers could not arrest them because they had no probable reason that a crime had been committed.”

The law allows police officers to request information about a person’s immigration status based on a “reasonable suspicion” that they are illegally in the country. The suspicious behavior that prompted Smith to pull over the van was reportedly the driver’s choice of camouflage clothing.

You can’t determine a person’s immigration or residential status just by the way they smell, furthermore, civil rights advocates have also raised flags about why the first stop was made. Quitting someone based on their clothing choice is not only wrong, but sounds like a cover to stop and check the immigration status of people of color. The laws guidance in applying the section clear notes that officers cannot use race or ethnicity to establish a reasonable suspicion that someone is undocumented, however Smith did.

“This reminds us that the SB1070 is alive and kicking. It’s not harmless. It’s still monitored daily,” Peard said.

According to the incident report, other drivers also disregarded the speed limit, but Smith chose to stop the van belonging to Latino men. The Arizona Department of Public Safety has since apologized for the incident clarifying that odor is not an appropriate factor to consider under SB 1070.

“The Department does not consider the ‘smell consistent with the smuggling of illegal aliens’ an acceptable factor to establish a reasonable suspicion that a person is a non-citizen and illegally present in the United States,” it said. DPS spokesperson Bart Graves in a statement to the Mirror. “The department recognizes that the information contained in Sergeant Smith’s report should have been worded better.” Despite this apology, however, Graves still defended Smith, noting his more than 20 years of experience, claiming that Smith had observed several things that amounted to reasonable suspicion.

Reasonable suspicion is such a vague term and can be used in any sense by racists to attack people of color. While SB 1070 should not regard odor as a reasonable suspicion, the law itself is problematic. According to the Associated Press, investigations into the rise of anti-immigrant laws in Arizona have shown that Latino people in Phoenix are held back longer and more likely to be searched and arrested.

The stop received widespread attention from Republicans who criticized immigration enforcement officials for failing to support the trooper. They claimed that as a result of the Biden administration’s policy change targeting terrorism and other threats, undocumented immigrants who should be arrested and are “criminals” are roaming free. Among the Republicans who blamed the Biden administration was Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who said the lack of immediate support for the topper by immigration officials is an example of a federal policy that “does nothing but those who serious threats to public security, including drug cartels and people smugglers.”


“If the federal government doesn’t do its job, Arizona will take matters into its own hands and provide support to sheriffs and local law enforcement,” Ducey said in a statement.

According to police officials, the driver later admitted to picking up the men in a desert near the border town of Douglas and transporting them to an undisclosed location for a $10,000 payout. However, that does not justify Smith’s racist actions. You can’t apprehend someone based on clothes that are often worn and claim you knew they were undocumented because of their smell. “I don’t know what someone smells like an immigrant,” Yvette Borja, a border dispute attorney for the ACLU of Arizona, told the Mirror.

Immigrants don’t have a distinct smell that translates to their immigration status. This is a clear example of ethnic profiling. Smith must be held accountable for his actions and such racism cannot be tolerated. We need reforms now.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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