Last week, following Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s speech before Congress, many conservatives blasted Calderon for slamming Arizona’s new immigration law and “meddling” in U.S. politics. “It’s about us. It’s about our citizenry,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “I just think that’s a line I would prefer that he did not cross. He went farther than I’m comfortable with,” stated Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). A statement released by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) read, “It’s unfortunate and disappointing the president of Mexico chose to criticize the state of Arizona by weighing in on a U.S. domestic policy issue during a trip that was meant to reaffirm the unique relationship between our two countries.” However, Calderon isn’t the first international figure to voice his concerns over the law. In fact, he joins a loud chorus of global leaders who have criticized the drastic measures that Arizona is taking to lock out undocumented immigrants:
CENTRAL AMERICA: The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry issued a press release soon after Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB-1070 into law, deploring the measure and expressing the government’s “deep concern” for the threat it represents to basic justice. The new government of Honduras also condemned the law. “Honduras considers that the passing of the law is the wrong step and does nothing to resolve the core problems behind of illegal immigration,” said Minister of the Presidency María Antonieta Guillén. Officials in El Salvador urged its citizens to avoid traveling to Arizona, and in Nicaragua, officials called on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN) “to take the necessary measures to safeguard the rights of the Hispanic population.”
SOUTH AMERICA: The Chilean Secretary of OAS, José Miguel Insulza, responded to Nicaragua’s request by expressing “the concern of the OAS, its Secretary General, the countries of the hemisphere and the Latin American community with the passage of a law in a state of the United States that we consider to be discriminatory against immigrants, and in particular against a population of such origin that lives in this country.” Heads of state and foreign ministers of the 12-member Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) slammed SB-1070, stating that it encourages “discretional detention of people based on racial, ethnic, phenotypic, language and migratory status reasons under the questionable concept of ‘reasonable doubt.’”
EUROPE: After reviewing the law, UN experts based in Geneva, Switzerland stated that SB-1070 could violate international standards that are binding in the United States. “A disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established with the adoption of an immigration law that may allow for police action targeting individuals on the basis of their perceived ethnic origin,” the experts said. Amnesty International, whose headquarters is based in London, agreed, calling the law “cruel and misguided” and in violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
AFRICA: South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has been an outspoken critic of Arizona’s immigration law. “Abominations such as apartheid do not start with an entire population suddenly becoming inhumane. They start here. They start with generalizing unwanted characteristics across an entire segment of a population,” wrote Tutu. “A solution that degrades innocent people, or that makes anyone with broken English a suspect, is not a solution.”
When it comes down to it, Arizonans may not care about what the international community has to say about its controversial new law, but global leaders have every right to care about what might happen to their countrymen and woman who visit, live, or travel through their state. In the end, it’s not meddling, it’s diplomacy with a stick.