States face mounting legal challenges to immigration laws

Frontera NorteSur

Mexico has joined with 13 other Latin American nations in supporting Washington’s legal fight over the Utah immigration law. The countries have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case against HB 497, the state law passed earlier this year that empowers local police to investigate the immigration status of persons detained by officers. But Mexico and allied countries contend that the measure interferes with government-to-government relationships and creates multilateral tensions.

In addition to Mexico, the other nations signing on to the legal brief include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.

Similar to the Arizona immigration law, the Utah law “dangerously contributes to a mosaic of laws that impede efficient and coherent diplomatic relations,” the Mexican government asserted. Federal judge Clark Waddoups has scheduled a hearing next February 17 that could determine whether to continue with the current suspension of the law, which the Obama Administration and civil rights organizations oppose as unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, other action on the immigration front happened this week when a pro-immigrant organization in Indiana took legal action against the state’s controversial immigration law. The East Chicago-based La Union Benefica Mexicana and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) filed a federal lawsuit challenging parts of the law as unconstitutional.

“This challenge is necessary to send a message to anti-immigrant groups that their efforts to pass Arizona-style legislation in the Midwest are not welcome and will be resisted,” Alonzo Rivas, MALDEF Midwest Regional Counsel, told the press. According to MALDEF, the bill “poses severe and immediate threats to the United States Constitution and to the livelihood of anyone who ‘looks’ to local authorities like an undocumented immigrant.”

The Indiana law was also earlier blocked by a federal judge after it was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and private lawyers.

Indiana State Attorney General Greg Zoeller was quoted as saying he would attempt to delay action on the two lawsuits until the US Supreme Court rules on Arizona’s law later next year.

Sources: WBEZ. org, December 22, 2011, Article by Michael Puente. El Diario de Juarez, La Jornada and Notimex. December 21 and 22, 2011.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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