Tuesday, November 9, 2010

FACT CHECK FOLLOW-UP: U.S. Urged To "Repeal" Arizona's SB 1070; Human Rights Review Process Nearing End

On Friday, the world had a chance to compliment and criticize the United States' human rights practices.  Ecuador recommended that Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law SB 1070 should be "repeal(ed)".  The U.S. delegation noted that it is already in the courts and re-expressed "the commitment to advancing comprehensive immigration reform."

In August, the United States State Department filed its self-survey of the status of human rights in the U.S.  Near the end of that mostly-positive report, it noted the ongoing legal action surrounding Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law.  This upset Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who accused the Obama Administration of "trying to make an international human rights case" of SB 1070, and that it was "unconstitutional" and "internationalism run amok."  The State Department responded by noting that the federal court case (now before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) is a positive example of how a country should use the rule of law to deal with issues.

Arizona and SB 1070 did end up being discussed at the Working Group session on Friday, and thus being included in the (draft) report issued today.  The 228 recommendations and conclusions submitted by a large number of nations may be further responded to by the U.S. and will be forwarded to the U.N. Human Rights Council for rubber-stamping.  The U.S. will then act on some of the recommendations, reject others, and ignore the rest.  End of story.  There is no enforcement and there are no penalties.

Basically, the Universal Periodic Review ("UPR") is an opportunity to shine a light on every nation's human rights efforts and to give every nation and every NGO (non-governmental organization) a chance to sound off about each other.  For example, the United States made a number of recommendations when Iran was reviewed earlier this year; Iran rejected nearly all of them.

What happened on Friday? According to the draft report, "Mexico recognized the robust institutional infrastructure for the protection of human rights." (para. 19) There must have been some mention of Arizona in the first round of nation's statements, because the U.S. delegation virtually repeated its report word-for-word about SB 1070. (para. 37)

Discussion about racial profiling and immigration continued.  Later, the U.S. "assured delegations that it condemns racial and ethnic profiling in all of its forms, and is conducting a thorough review of policies and procedures to ensure that none of its law enforcement practices improperly target individuals based on race or ethnicity." (para. 72)  Regarding immigration, the U.S. stated that "it is committed to improving its immigration system", while noting that more than 9.4 million people have either become permanent residents (5.5M), naturalized citizens (3.5M) or resettled/granted asylum (nearly 425,000) in the U.S. in the past five years. (para. 73).

The draft report then turns to the recommendations and/or conclusions noted by the different nations.  Haiti urged the U.S. to ratify the 1990 "International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families". (para. 15).  A number of countries joined in on that suggestion, mainly from Central and South America.

Four countries then made recommendations which appeared to be referencing SB 1070.  Guatemala, Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay urged the U.S. to attempt to restrain state initiatives which encourage racial profiling. (paras. 79, 101, 105, 108)  Finally, Ecuador came right out and urged the U.S. to "repeal and do not enforce discriminatory and racial laws such as Law SB 1070 of the State of Arizona." (para. 110)

Likely, the U.S. will respond to that entreaty by noting that the federal government can neither repeal nor prevent Arizona from enforcing the state law if the federal courts do not find in favor of the U.S. in the pending legal action. 

Arizona's Politics wishes to commend the ACLU for posting the draft report and for quickly responding to its media inquiry.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

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