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Latin America opposes Ariz. immigration law

  |   Nov. 16, 2010 at 5:50 PM
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Mexico's objection to Arizona's immigration law has spread throughout Latin America to include an appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Council, officials said.

Luis Gallegos, Ecuador's ambassador to the United States, presented the law Nov. 5 to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva as a major concern for all of Latin America, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Ecuador, Mexico and eight other Latin American nations filed a "friend of the court" briefing in federal lawsuit challenging the Arizona law, which was passed in April and requires state law enforcement personnel to determine the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest if there is "reasonable suspicion" a person is an illegal immigrant.

"The countries in Latin America are already perceiving some distance and disengagement" from the United States, Mauricio Cardenas, director of the Latin American Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told USA Today. The Arizona law "makes Latin America more and more interested in developing stronger relations with other parts of the world."

A federal judge halted core aspects of the law shortly after it was passed, and Gov. Jan Brewer is appealing.

"I fervently believe that arguments by a foreign government have no place in a U.S. legal proceeding," Brewer said in a statement. "Arizonans strongly believe, in a bipartisan fashion, that foreign nations should not be meddling in an internal legal dispute between the United States and one of its states."

"I'm sure that Mexico is happy that the Obama administration is challenging these laws," Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the newspaper. "But I'm not sure they're persuaded that the Obama administration is in control. The worry is that the states are going to start driving the bus, too."

The Obama administration recently boasted of a record number of deportations in fiscal 2010 -- more than 392,000 -- and noted the number of Border Patrol agents has risen from 9,000 to 20,000 in the past decade.

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