Earlier this week, eleven nations joined a strongly worded declaration protesting Arizona’s draconian new immigration law:
According to the declaration, these 11 countries consider the law to be “racist, xenophobic and anti-immigration of any kind”. Besides these considerations, the declaration recognizes the efforts of Barack Obama and his “personal compromise to push forward a comprehensive immigration reform.”
Apart from Chile, the countries that signed were Mexico, Uruguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Turkey, Panama, Bolivia, Micronesia and Senegal. The president of the Parliamentary Assembly in Europe and Mevlüt Covusoglu, from Turkey, also signed.
And this declaration is but the latest sign of the international community’s disdain for Arizona’s anti-immigrant policy. Mexico recently filed a brief supporting the Obama Administration’s challenge against SB1070, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón slammed the law in an address to the US Congress.
None of this opposition should come as a surprise, however. Indeed the Supreme Court predicted it almost 70 years ago.
In a case called Hines v. Davidowitz, the Supreme Court struck down a Pennsylvania law requiring “every alien 18 years or over” to register annually with the state. As the Court explained, state laws which intrude on immigration policy can have grave consequences for US foreign policy:
One of the most important and delicate of all international relationships, recognized immemorially as a responsibility of government, has to do with the protection of the just rights of a country’s own nationals when those nationals are in another country. Experience has shown that international controversies of the gravest moment, sometimes even leading to war, may arise from real or imagined wrongs to another’s subjects inflicted, or permitted, by a government.
As Hines establishes, “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.” This is because the decision of a single rogue state to engage in abusive behavior towards immigrants reflects upon the United States as a whole. Thus, the Constitution gives the national government sole authority over immigration policy because Americans who live in the other 49 states should not be forced to pay for one state’s bad decision.
Arizona’s SB1070 is no different than the Pennsylvania law struck down in Hines. Just as Pennsylvania could not be allowed to define our foreign relations in 1941, Arizona also cannot be allowed to shape US diplomacy in 2010. Americans elected Barack Obama to drive our foreign policy, we did not elect Jan Brewer.