Top UN official criticises 'racist' Arizona immigration law
Arizona's new law on illegal immigration is "racist" as it leads to racial profiling based on skin colour and violates the US constitution, a top UN official said Tuesday in Spain.
The law passed in April has provisions that include requiring police to question a person about his or her immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the United States illegally.
It also makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. A federal judge temporarily blocked some of its provisions just before the law was due to take effect at the end of July.
The UN special rapporteur on migrant rights, Mexico's Jorge Bustamante, said the law was "racist" because it gave police the right to detain people "based on their appearance and skin colour is a main part of one's appearance."
The law also violates the US constitution's provision that only the national government can make laws to regulate immigration, he told AFP.
Even though a federal judge blocked the more hotly contested aspects of the law, Bustamante said the legislation has still had "social consequences".
"Situations have occurred that derive from this atmosphere of xenophobia, this anti-immigrant sentiment that predominates in the state of Arizona and in other parts of the United States and which leaves immigrants vulnerable and leads to abuses," he said.
Supporters of the law deny it leads to racial profiling and argue it will pressure illegal immigrants to leave the country of their own will.
The Arizona law has drawn protests from Mexican President Felipe Calderon that resonate throughout Latin America, source of the vast majority of the estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
© 2010 AFP