Mexico gets its a say in one of the lawsuits challenging Arizona’s immigration enforcement law.
A federal judge on Thursday granted Mexico’s request to be allowed to file a legal brief supporting the challenge. That means the judge will consider the brief Mexico submitted previously.
Mexico says it wants to defend its citizens’ rights and that the law would lead to racial profiling and hinder trade and tourism. It also says the law would hinder work against drug trafficking and related violence.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the law on April 23 and changes to it on April 30, has lawyers defending it in court.
In a statement issued last week, Brewer said she was “very disappointed” to learn of Mexico’s filing and reiterated that “Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and constitutional.”
“I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail and that our laws will be found constitutional,” Brewer added.
Brewer and other supporters of the bill say the law is intended to pressure illegal immigrants to leave the United States. They contend it is a needed response to federal inaction over what they say is a porous border and social problems caused by illegal immigration. They also argue that it has protections against racial profiling.
The law’s provisions include a requirement that police enforcing another law ask people about their immigration status if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” they’re in the country illegally.
The law takes effect July 29 unless blocked by a court.
Until recently, Mexican law made illegal immigration a criminal offense — anyone arrested for the violation could be fined, imprisoned for up to two years and deported. Mexican lawmakers changed that in 2008 to make illegal immigration a civil violation like it is in the United States, but their law still reads an awful lot like Arizona’s.
Arizona’s policy, which President Felipe Calderon derided during a recent U.S. trip as “discriminatory,” states police can’t randomly stop people and demand papers, and the law prohibits racial profiling.
Mexican law, however, requires law enforcement officials “to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country before attending to any issues.”
Amnesty International recently issued a report claiming illegal immigrants in Mexico — typically from Central America — face abuse, rape and kidnappings, and that Mexican police do little to stop it. When illegal immigration was a criminal offense in Mexico, officials were known to seek bribes from suspects to keep them out of jail.
But Mexico said it has a legitimate interest in defending its citizens’ rights and that Arizona’s law would lead to racial profiling, hinder trade and tourism, and strain the countries’ work on combating drug trafficking and related violence.