Mexico backs opponents of Georgia immigration crackdown

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 16, 2011 5:58 PM
Mexico backs opponents of Georgia immigration crackdown

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Mexico and 10 other countries have joined the legal fight against the state of Georgia's new law aimed at curbing illegal immigration.

The law takes effect on July 1. But civil right groups argue it is unconstitutional and will try to block the state from implementing it at a federal court hearing on Monday.

"Mexico seeks to ensure that its citizens present in the United States are accorded the human and civil rights granted under the U.S. Constitution," the Mexican government wrote in a brief on Wednesday supporting the challengers' legal efforts.

The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru also filed a brief in support of the law's opponents.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the immigration legislation into law last month. It authorizes law enforcement officers to question criminal suspects about their immigration status and requires many employers to check the immigration status of new hires on a federal database called E-Verify.

The law also will make it a crime to transport or harbor illegal immigrants or entice them into the state.

Georgia is among a growing list of states that have enacted tough immigration laws.

Rights organizations have sued to block measures in Georgia, Arizona, Utah and Indiana. They have vowed to file suit in Alabama, where earlier this month the governor signed into law an immigration crackdown that supporters and critics alike called the toughest in the nation.

Creating a patchwork of state laws damages U.S.-Mexico relations and makes it "nearly impossible for Mexican nationals to understands their rights," Mexico stated in its court brief in Georgia.

Georgia has asked the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it is speculative and without legal merit.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)