The Mexican government formally joined the fight to stop Arizona’s new immigration law on Monday, telling a U.S. court the law “threatens to poison the well” of diplomacy between the two nations and exposes Mexican citizens to racial profiling by police.
In a 28-page brief filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, lawyers for Mexico said the creation of the law, widely known as S.B. 1070, “has been closely followed at the highest levels of the Mexican government and throughout Mexican society.”
The government said it believes the Arizona law, which among other things makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, violates the U.S. Constitution. It asked the court to throw the law out entirely.
During a joint session of Congress last month, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon called the law a “terrible idea” that “ignores a reality.” But Monday’s so called friend of the court brief marks the first time Mexico has weighed in on the attempt to challenge the law in court.
For its part, the Mexican government said it believes the law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, will severely hurt its ability to do business with Arizona and the U.S.
The briefing notes that Mexico is the third-largest trading partner with the United States and the second-largest buyer of American exports. Nearly 20 million Mexicans lawfully visited the United States last year, the filing said, and Mexican citizens spend about $7.35 million every day in Arizona alone.
“If S.B. 1070 takes effect,” the briefing said, “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 government also said the law puts down a major stumbling block for comprehensive immigration reform, which both the U.S. and Mexico see as a necessity.
The briefing quotes Mexico’s own ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan, as saying the law “threatens to poison the well from which our two nations have found and should continue to find inspiration for a joint future of prosperity, security, tolerance and justice.”
Finally, the briefing compared S.B. 1070 to police actions targeting African Americans in the south before and during the civil rights era.
The Mexican government said it believes bias and stereotyping will be an inherent part of enforcing the law, despite Arizona’s promise that it will not.
“S.B. 1070 gives local officers carte blanche authority to stereotype and to rely on the popular perception that appearances of “foreign-ness” are justifiable means for disparate treatment,” the filing said.
“This inevitably will lead to casting an overbroad net in the pursuit of ‘illegal immigrants.’”