Ecuador, Argentina join Mexico in legal fight against SB 1070 - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Ecuador, Argentina join Mexico in legal fight against SB 1070

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Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 5:32 pm | Updated: 5:10 pm, Fri May 6, 2011.

Two more Latin American countries added their own objections Tuesday to Arizona's new immigration law.

In legal papers filed in federal court, Luis Gallegos, the ambassador to the United States from Ecuador, said his country wants to join Mexico in the fight to convince U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to block the state from enforcing the law.

"Similar to Mexico, Ecuador has a substantial and compelling interest in ensuring that its bilateral diplomatic relations with the government of the United States of America are transparent, consistent and reliable, and not frustrated by the actions of individual U.S. states, in this case, Arizona," Gallegos wrote. He said SB 1070 "raises substantial challenges" to relations between the two countries.

Gallegos also echoed the fears expressed by Mexico that the Arizona law will affect its citizens.

"Ecuador has a substantial and compelling interest to ensure that its citizens are accorded human and civil rights when present in the United States in accordance with federal immigration law," he wrote. "Ecuador is gravely concerned that SB 1070 will lead to racial profiling and disparate treatment of its nationals."

A virtually identical brief was filed Tuesday by Jose Perez Gabilondo, charge d'affairs in Washington for Argentina.

Brewer said that both diplomats are wrong, both on the issue of racial profiling and the question of Arizona interfering with international relations. And she said both objections ignore the issues and problems of illegal immigration.

"The bottom line is America and Arizona live by laws," she said. Brewer said SB 1070 mirrors federal immigration laws, giving state and local police tools to enforce them.

"We will continue to live by those laws," she said.

The new legal filings were made in connection with the challenge to the law filed by attorneys for three civil rights organizations.

That case, filed before the U.S. Department of Justice decided to bring its own claim, has become the focal point for individuals and organizations across the state, country and internationally to weigh in on the question of whether the law is constitutional.

The heart of the statute requires police to seek documents showing legal status from those they have stopped if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in this country illegally. Another section makes it a state crime for a foreign national not to carry certain documents, a provision which could result in arrest and prosecution of illegal immigrants for violating Arizona laws.

The lawsuit contends the law unconstitutionally infringes on the exclusive right of the federal government to regulate immigration. It also charges that the law is bound to result in racial profiling despite language in the statute specifically forbidding race, ethnicity or national origin from being used to decide who to question.

Ecuador and Argentina were not the only interests Tuesday seeking to influence the case.

Also objecting to the law was Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, an organization made up of lawyers who represent clients in criminal matters. In its legal brief, the attorneys said SB 1070 is unconstitutional because it effectively makes it a crime for people who are stopped to refuse to answer police questions and produce identification.

"The failure to answer questions about immigration status could be used as a basis for further detention," the filing reads. "Mere inability to prove one's lawful presence cannot rise to the level of reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in the country illegally."

But the American Unity Legal Defense Fund, a national group that intervenes in immigration cases, said in its own brief that states are entitled to target illegal immigration, "even through measures that go beyond federal law" as long as the state laws are "consistent with the objectives Congress established." And attorney Barnaby Zall said Congress has not preempted the kind of things in SB 1070.

"If plaintiffs wish to overturn the (Arizona) law, they must turn to Congress, not the courts," Zall wrote.

The filings come just ahead of the first of a series of hearings on requests that Bolton issue an injunction to block the law from taking effect as scheduled July 29.

On Thursday she will hear arguments by David Salgado, a Phoenix police officer.

He said his rights are violated by a requirement in the law that he ask those he has stopped about their immigration status when there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in this country illegally. Salgado also said another section of SB 1070 puts him at risk of being sued if he doesn't enforce the law "to the fullest extent permitted by federal immigration law."

Bolton is slated to hear two separate requests for injunction July 22, one from the civil rights groups and the other from the Department of Justice.

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