by JJ Hensley and Michelle Ye Hee Lee - Jul. 26, 2010
The Arizona Republic
Arizona's new illegal-immigration enforcement law has raised a host of concerns from critics, but none more prevalent than the pervasive fear that the law will lead police officers to target those who look Hispanic.
Those concerns are not unfounded. It has happened in Arizona before.
Racial profiling - stopping and questioning individuals based strictly on their race or ethnicity - is in most cases illegal. It is also easy to allege but difficult to prove in individual cases.
Two episodes in Arizona brought problems with racial profiling to the fore. The police agencies involved were left paying out settlements, implementing new training measures and overhauling their procedures to fend off similar claims in the future.
The term "racial profiling" didn't appear in the pages of The Arizona Republic until May 1998, in a story about an incident involving New Jersey State Police. By then, however, the potential for profiling was well-known in the Phoenix area because of a 1997 immigration sweep in low-income Chandler neighborhoods.