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Mexico Submits Brief to U.S. Supreme Court Over Arizona Immigration Law

April 26, 2012

The premise of the brief Mexico submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court supposes that Mexico has a legitimate interest in protecting its citizens in the U.S. illegally because it finds the law SB 1070 offensive.  And while the law is offensive, does its offensive nature really give Mexico any credible room to complain about U.S. law that governs the illegal actions of Mexicans here in the States?

According to Mexico, the fact that Mexican citizens illegally living in the U.S. could be treated offensively, according to Mexican officials, means that Mexico has a stake in filing a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court.  It’s a novel concept, that a country who disagrees with U.S. law as it relates to the illegal actions of its citizens should submit briefs  before the U.S. Supreme Court as a means of a foreign country entering the legal fray of the U.S. court systems to complain about a state law.  Technically, Mexico has not shown reasonable cause for submitting a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, and this omission has been recognized. While some proponents argue that Arizona’s law has had an impact on foreign affairs and therefore warrants the federal government’s intrusion, others argue that U.S. laws can not be based on the approval of foreign nations, regardless of foreign interests at stake:

It is unclear how Mexico’s brief will be received by the justices. When the case was argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges were divided over how much weight to give Mexico’s arguments.

“The record unmistakably demonstrates that SB 1070 has had a deleterious effect on the United States’ foreign relations, which weighs in favor of preemption,” wrote Judge Richard Paez in the appeals-court majority opinion.

The judge said the Arizona law had created “actual foreign policy problems of a magnitude far greater” than those recognized by the Supreme Court in an earlier preemption case.

“These briefs are relevant to our decision-making in this case insofar as they demonstrate the factual effects of Arizona’s law on US foreign affairs, an issue that the Supreme Court has directed us to consider in preemption cases,” Judge Paez wrote.

In a dissent, Judge Carlos Bea said any foreign-relations spillover from the Arizona law would be the result of legal mandates written by Congress, not Arizona.

“A foreign nation may not cause a state law to be preempted simply by complaining about the law’s effects on foreign relations generally,” Judge Bea wrote. “We do not grant other nations’ foreign ministries a ‘heckler’s veto,’ ” he said.

Mexico took exception to Bea’s criticism.

“Mexico is not asserting a ‘heckler’s veto’ over US state or federal laws,” Solano wrote in his Supreme Court brief. The Mexican government acknowledges the sovereign right of countries to decide the policies that will apply within their territory, he said.

“But [Mexico] respectfully asserts its legitimate, substantial and compelling interests to protect the rights of its citizens and support the efforts of the US federal government to ensure that diplomatic relations are not thwarted by the actions of individual states, herein Arizona,” Solano said.

The case is Arizona v. United States (11-182). A decision is expected by late June.

Mexico, of course, took issue with the “heckler’s veto” comment, but Mexico still has not proved that it has a “legitimate interest” in controlling U.S. law, outside of just, well, controlling laws written in the U.S.

There are those in Arizona who feel that the law, SB 1070 has “worked,” and only part of the law is up for challenge at the level of the U.S. Supreme Court anyway:

At a press conference on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, former State Senator Russell Pearce said “that the law has achieved several of its goals, including the voluntary departure of thousands of illegal aliens from Arizona, a reduction in crime and prison population, and a shrinking number of students in Mesa Public Schools that led to the closure of 13 elementary schools.”

Self deportation works.

At the press conference — one day before arguments are heard before the Supreme Court on certain aspects of the Arizona law — Pearce responded to a question from a reporter about whether the blockage of the law by the U.S. Justice Department has had a negative impact on the state.

“First of all, [the law] is not blocked,” Russell said. “And those six [legal steps] that are in effect are really the meat of 1070.”

What people tend to forget is that a good portion of SB 1070 is still at work, and other states are taking note.  Has the U.S. Government dragged its feet for too long in illegal immigration? Yes, but is SB 1070 the answer?  Well, that remains to be seen, but for the time being, only a few portions of SB 1070 are being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court level, so the majority of the law is still in effect.


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