Mexico asks court to reject Ariz. immigration law

Undocumented immigrants are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection bike patrol agents after entering the country illegally June 2, 2010 in Nogales, Arizona.
Undocumented immigrants are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection bike patrol agents after entering the country illegally June 2, 2010 in Nogales, Arizona. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Mexico on Tuesday asked a federal court in Arizona to declare the state's new immigration law unconstitutional, arguing that the country's own interests and its citizens' rights are at stake.

Lawyers for Mexico on Tuesday submitted a legal brief in support of one of five lawsuits challenging the law. The law will take effect June 29 unless implementation is blocked by a court.

The law generally requires police investigating another incident or crime to ask people about their immigration status if there's a "reasonable suspicion" they're in the country illegally. It also makes being in Arizona illegally a misdemeanor, and it prohibits seeking day-labor work along the state's streets.

Citing "grave concerns," Mexico said its interest in having predictable, consistent relations with the United States shouldn't be frustrated by one U.S. state.

Mexico also said it has a legitimate interest in defending its citizens' rights and that the law would lead to racial profiling, hinder trade and tourism, and strain the countries' work on combating drug trafficking and related violence.

"Mexican citizens will be afraid to visit Arizona for work or pleasure out of concern that they will be subject to unlawful police scrutiny and detention," the brief said.

It will be to a U.S. District Court judge to decide whether to accept the brief along with similar ones submitted by various U.S. organizations.

A spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer did not immediately return a call for comment on Mexico's brief. Brewer, who signed the law on April 23 and changes to it on April 30, has lawyers defending it in court.

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.

Mexican officials previously had voiced opposition to the Arizona law, with President Felipe Calderon saying June 8 that the law "opens a Pandora's box of the worst abuses in the history of humanity" by promoting racial profiling and potentially leading to an authoritarian society.

Calderon voiced similar criticism of the law during a May visit to Washington.

U.S. officials have said the Obama administration has serious concerns about the law and may challenge it in court. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton recently went further by saying a lawsuit is planned.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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