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Mexico, other nations allowed to sue states with new immigration laws

June 15, 2011

Last week, several Latin American countries filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City in opposition to a new Utah law which allows local law enforcement to arrest illegal aliens and bans them from using state-funded services.

The brief was filed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

While the Utah legislation was actually enacted on March 15, a stay was issued by the federal court on May 10—blocking the law from going into effect until the constitutionality of such laws is decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Though it would seem that foreign governments lack any legal standing in attempting to block state legislatures from enacting laws, the precedent was set for such meddling last year in the wake of Arizona’s SB1070 legislation.

In October 2010, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru could file briefs against the state of Arizona.

Shortly after that ruling, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) said: “As do many citizens, I find it incredibly offensive that these foreign governments are using our court system to meddle in a domestic legal dispute and to oppose the rule of law.”

Brewer continued: “What’s even more offensive is that this effort has been supported by the U.S. Department of Justice. American sovereignty begins in the U.S. Constitution and at the border. I am confident the 9th Circuit will do the right thing and recognize foreign interference in U.S. legal proceedings and allow the State of Arizona to respond to their brief.”

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