Costa Rica Takes Sides on Arizona Immigration Conflict

July 30, 2010

Days before a controversial U.S. immigration law was poised to take effect, Costa Rica presented an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, detailing its opposition to the U.S. state of Arizona’s new legislation targeting illegal immigrants.

In submitting its brief, the Central American country can enter an opinion into the court record without being directly involved in the controversy. Costa Rica added its voice to that of Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua in denouncing Arizona’s new law.

The Central American country based its opinion on the premise that it was protecting “the civil and human rights of Costa Rican citizens while in the United States.

“Faithful to its tradition of promoting and defending human rights, Costa Rica has raised its voice against discrimination against immigrants in the United States,” the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry wrote in a press release.

On Wednesday, July 28, Federal Judge Susan R. Bolton issued a ruling that significantly weakened the law. She called immigration a federal issue and removed the major provisions that conflicted with national laws or further burdened federal resources.

The ruling took aim at a provision that required officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they detain and annulled the provision that makes it a state crime under Arizona law to be in the United States illegally or to work in the United States illegally.

Since Arizona’s governor signed the law in April, it has drawn loud criticism from immigrant rights groups who fear widespread racial profiling and increased discrimination. Meanwhile, the law’s supporters argue it will effectively address the long-standing and expensive problem of illegal immigration, which has led to violence in Arizona’s southern border region and strained the state’s budget.

Under a new immigration law in Costa Rica, every hotel and lodging facility must keep a record of its foreign guests. Foreigners are required to carry a passport or a copy of their passport at all times; failure to do so can lead to a 24-hour detention.

–Chrissie Long

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