Five cases have already been filed in federal court in Arizona to stop SB 1070, Arizona's new immigration law, from ever being enforced.

Friendly House v. Whiting is one of the cases.  It wants SB 1070 to be declared unconstitutional.

In the Friendly House case, the nation of Mexico has submitted a "friend of the court" brief.  The complete brief is online at

Below are the arguments in Mexico's brief, in text format.


The United Mexican States ("Mexico") respectfully submits this amicus curiae brief to express its grave concerns over [SB 1070], and to underscore the importance of declaring SB 1070 unconstitutional in its entirety.

Mexico seeks to ensure that its bilateral diplomatic relations with the United States of America ("U.S." or "United States") are transparent, consistent and reliable, and not frustrated by individual U.S. states' actions, in particular the Arizona Defendants herein.

SB 1070 substantially impacts Mexico, its officials and citizens, by inappropriately burdening the uniform and predictable sovereign-to-sovereign relations, opening the door to divergent requirements among the different states, and with respect to the national government.

Under Article 5(a) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which both countries are signatories, Mexico has a right to protect the interests of its nationals within the limits of international law.

Mexico seeks to assure that its citizens, present in the United States, are accorded the human and civil rights granted under the U.S. Constitution; having therefore a substantial and compelling interest in protecting its citizens and ensuring that their ethnicity is not used as basis for state-sanctioned acts of discrimination, including the inequitable application of civil and criminal laws and state's law enforcement powers.  SB 1070 creates an imminent threat of state-sanctioned bias or discrimination, resulting not only in individual injury, but also in broader social and economic harms to its citizens, undermining Mexico–U.S. relations.

The enactment of SB 1070 has been closely followed at the highest levels of the Mexican government and throughout Mexican society.  The issues raised herein are of great importance to the people of Mexico, including the almost twenty million Mexican workers, tourists and students lawfully admitted to the United States throughout 2009, those already present or who will similarly be admitted to the U.S in the future, and the countless millions affected by international trade, immigration policies and drug violence.

The government of Mexico respectfully submits that SB 1070 adversely impacts the bilateral relations between Mexico and the United States, as well as law abiding Mexican citizens and other people of Latin-American descent present in Arizona as argued by Plaintiffs.


I.  SB 1070 Impedes International Relations; There Needs to Be One Cohesive, Consistent and Controlling United States Voice

"The Federal Government, representing as it does the collective interests of the [fifty] states, is entrusted with full and exclusive responsibility for the conduct of affairs with foreign sovereignties."

Through SB 1070, Arizona imposes its own independent and conflicting requirements.  Arizona does this despite specific provisions of federal immigration law that permit Arizona to assist with the enforcement of immigration law after receiving federal approval and appropriate training to ensure constitutionality.

Arizona's unilateral action burdens Mexico enormously by forcing its officials and citizens to respond to divergent requirements imposed by the different divisions of the U.S. government.  In order to conduct effective diplomatic relations with the U.S., countries such as Mexico need and depend on transparent, consistent and reliable bilateral negotiations.  Amicus cannot effectively collaborate with the United States on a sovereign basis to address inherently international matters such as immigration, trade and security, if U.S. political subdivisions establish their own requirements that conflict not only with each other but also with the efforts, priorities and commitments of the U.S. federal government.
SB 1070 adversely impacts U.S. relations with foreign countries, directly interfering with the U.S. Department of State's ability to conduct foreign affairs and policy.

As conveyed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although SB 1070 is not yet in effect, it is already straining U.S.–Mexico relations.

Mexico's ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan explains that SB 1070 "threatens to poison the well from which our two nations have found and should continue to find inspiration for a joint future of prosperity, security, tolerance and justice."

A.  SB 1070 Will Severely Hinder Trade and Tourism Between Mexico and Arizona

One area of great concern to Mexico relates to the repercussions of SB 1070 on trade and commercial relations with the United States.  Growth in U.S. trade with Latin America has historically outpaced that of all other regions.

Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the United States and the second purchaser of U.S. exports.

The interaction of labor markets, tourism, business travel, and student migration between the countries is widespread and of great importance to both economies.

A University of California study estimates that immigration into the United States over the 1990–2006 period increased U.S. economic efficiency, resulting in a 2.86% real wage increase for the average U.S. worker.

In particular, each day approximately 65,000 Mexicans are admitted into Arizona; and each day they spend an average of $7.35 million in its stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses.

SB 1070 poses a threat to this mutually beneficial trade between the two nations.

As discussed in more detail in Section II, if SB 1070 takes effect, Mexican citizens will be afraid to visit Arizona for work or pleasure out of concern that they will be subject to unlawful police scrutiny and detention.

To enhance the benefits of economic trade and collaboration, the United States and Mexico have pursued trade liberalization through collaborative multilateral, regional and bilateral negotiations, resulting in advantageous multi-faceted economic relationships (e.g. North American Free Trade Agreement).

Diplomacy is crucial to such negotiations.  SB 1070 impedes collaboration by pushing "nations that work together and trade" to "mutual recrimination, which has been so useless and damaging in previous times."

Strained diplomatic ties substantially impede the ability of the U.S. and Mexico to collaboratively develop, enhance and maintain commercial ties critical to their economies.

B.  SB 1070 Derails Efforts Towards Comprehensive Immigration Reform

With over eleven million nationals in the U.S., Mexico has a significant interest in U.S. comprehensive immigration reform.  The United States is equally interested in Mexico's involvement.  In fact, one of the five immigration principles of the Obama administration is to collaborate with Mexico.

Immigration was a principal topic discussed by the presidents of Mexico and the U.S. in their May 19, 2010 meeting.  As President Barack Obama acknowledged, both countries share a responsibility to address the issue.  Among the responsibilities, he noted Mexico's efforts to create jobs and the United States' efforts to "fix our broken immigration system[.]"

Both presidents expressed their belief that SB 1070 is a "misdirected effort" to address immigration concerns, and that collaboration among the two federal governments is essential to ensure that immigration reform "does not have an adverse impact on the economies of [the border] regions."

The effects of U.S.-Mexico migration to labor markets, tourism, business travel, and education [are] of great importance to both the U.S. and Mexico.

Mexican citizens comprised the highest percentage (12%) of the 163 million non-immigrants legally admitted into the United States in 2009, including tourists, business travelers, specialty workers and students.

Furthermore, as noted by President Obama, the countries also profit from the intellectual exchange.

Immigration policy is crucial to the communities of the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.  As noted by President Obama, "there are enormous flows of trade and tourists and people along the border region; the economies are interdependent[.]"

In addition to immigration, law enforcement policies are critical to border areas highly susceptible to drug-related violence.  Accordingly, [r]ecognizing the importance of securing and facilitating the lawful flow of goods, services, and people between their countries[,] [u]nderstanding that joint and collaborative administration of their common border is critical to transforming management of the border to enhance security and efficiency[, and u]nderstanding that law enforcement coordination between the Participants is essential to preventing crime and to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations[,]" on May 19, 2010, amicus and the United States entered into the Declaration by The Government Of The United States Of America and The Government Of The United Mexican States Concerning Twenty-First Century Border Management to express their commitment to strengthen collaboration to enhance economic exchange, lawful travel, and to dismantle criminal organizations.

It is due to the social, economic, intellectual and security benefits of international collaboration, that the United States federal government and Mexico recognize the importance of comprehensive immigration reform.

Through SB 1070, Arizona impinges upon the US-Mexico bilateral agenda and obstructs the bi-national collaboration to tackle immigration and border problems, while preserving the benefits of economic and intellectual exchange.  SB 1070 institutes an independent state system of immigration enforcement that not only derails bilateral economic, social and security efforts, but imperils the U.S. federal government's efforts at a comprehensive solution for immigration policy.  Mexico cannot effectively cooperate or engage in meaningful bilateral relations with the U.S. when states are permitted to interfere with the sovereigns' bilateral efforts.

C.  SB 1070 Obstructs International Collaboration to Combat Drug-Trafficking Organizations and Drug-Related Violence

For over thirty years, the war against drug-trafficking organizations has been a critical issue for the U.S. and Latin American governments.

Recently, the fight against Mexican drug-trafficking organizations has taken the spotlight.  Approximately seven thousand people were killed by drug-related violence in Mexico in the past year; 31% took place in the border State of Chihuahua.

The current and previous U.S. administrations have recognized the shared responsibility for drug-related violence, and determined that "it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue."

As numerous scholars highlight, "without changes in U.S. drug policy, efforts to combat [drug trafficking organizations] or to address Mexico's own growing domestic demand for drugs will be futile."

To this end, following extensive negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico, the Merida Initiative was announced on October 22, 2007.  This initiative is a training and equipment bilateral cooperation package intended to collaboratively strengthen the counter-narcotic efforts of both governments.

In connection with the Merida Initiative, former U.S. President George W. Bush stated: "The United States is committed to this joint strategy to deal with a joint problem.  I would not be committed to dealing with this if I wasn't convinced that President Felipe Calderon had the will and the desire to protect his people from narco-traffickers."

Cooperation under the Merida Initiative has made great strides, leading the United States and Mexico to successfully make over a thousand arrests, including [top members] of multiple drug-trafficking organizations, as well as to intelligence-sharing, and strengthening the implementation of weapon tracing and cash seizure initiatives.

As the U.S. and Mexico attempt to strengthen trust and collaboration among bi-national federal, state and local law enforcement to attack drug-trafficking organizations and drug-related violence, SB 1070 threatens the U.S.-Mexico efforts by straining and encumbering bilateral collaboration.  Moreover, SB 1070 will further obstruct international goals to control drug-related violence by raising a very real risk of reducing [crime reporting] in Arizona, including by Mexican nationals, thereby impeding law enforcement's efforts to continue making arrests and seizures on both sides of the border.

Former U.S. President Bush's opinion -- regarding the U.S.'s inability to unilaterally commit to a project -- is a sentiment shared on both sides of the border.  Mexico equally cannot in good faith negotiate and collaborate with the United States without certainty that the bilateral efforts will not be obstructed by divergent political subdivisions, like Arizona.  This interference with federal policies is of particular concern in U.S. border states including Arizona, which play a significant operations role regarding the Merida Initiative's goal of controlling weapons traffic into Mexico.
"[T]he interest of the cities, counties and states, no less than the interests of the people of the whole nation, imperatively requires that federal power in the field affecting foreign relations be left entirely free from local interference."

For this reason, James Madison expressed:  "If we are to be one nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other nations."

As a foreign nation, Mexico has a compelling interest in maintaining its bilateral relations based on respect for the constitutional law of the United States, and in the invalidation of SB 1070.  

II.  Mexico Has a Legitimate Interest Protecting Its Citizens' Rights Under the U.S. Constitution

The Mexican government respectfully submits that history demonstrates the state sanctioned actions, like SB 1070, violate the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution that [guarantee] freedom, liberty and equal protection of the law.  Sovereign actions by the United States against minority populations at perceived times of threat have proven unwarranted.  For example, the actions taken toward African-Americans during and prior to the Civil Rights movement underscore the potential harm and lasting negative effects of SB 1070.

Discriminatory and biased legal enforcement have adverse legal, social, economic and political implications, and underline Mexico's legitimate interest in assuring that its citizens are not deprived of protection under the U.S. Constitution and not subjected to hostile attitudes or action by U.S. society.  As of 2008, there were 11.4 million Mexican-born individuals living in the United States, 5.4% of them liv[ing] in Arizona.

Moreover, the Ninth Circuit acknowledged in 2000 that "[t]he Hispanic population of the nation and of the Southwest and Far West in particular, has grown enormously -- at least five-fold in ... [Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas]."

In fact, recent preliminary demographic information establishes that minorities represent more that fifty percent of the population in Hawaii, New Mexico, California and Texas, making use of race and ethnicity as a law enforcement factor inappropriate.

Alongside these demographic changes, the 9th Circuit also noted that there have been "significant changes in the law restricting the use of race as a criterion in government decision-making," with the court concluding that the "use of race and ethnicity for such purposes has been severely limited."

The Court further opined that even at border check stops, "at this point in our nation's history, and given the continuing changes in our ethnic and racial composition, Hispanic appearance is, in general, of such little probative value that it may not be considered as a relevant factor where particularize[d] or individualized suspicion is required ...  in determining which particular individuals among the vast Hispanic populace should be stopped by law enforcement officials on the lookout for illegal aliens.

Given the public rhetoric by the Arizona Governor and other state officials, together with the implied reference in A.R.S. Sec. 11-1051(B), sending an impermissible impression of U.S. and Arizona Constitutional support for using race and ethnicity pursuant to SB 1070, Mexico is rightfully concerned for the civil rights of its citizens in Arizona.  Until [the court case of] Montero-Camargo, as late as 2000, U.S. Border Patrol agents impermissibly used Hispanic appearance as a singularly sufficient basis to stop Hispanics for immigration purposes.  

A.  SB 1070's Results in Racial Profiling [Are] Reminiscent of African-American Discrimination

SB 1070 gives local officers carte blanche authority to stereotype and to rely on the popular perception that appearances of "foreign-ness" are justifiable means for disparate treatment.  These "[n]egative stereotypes are further promulgated because profiling prompts more investigations, which will inevitably result in more arrests and convictions of members of the targeted group."

Commentators note that immigration enforcement, especially in the Southwest, regularly imposes indignities on U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants of Mexican ancestry not also imposed on the white, non-Hispanic population.

Mexico is justifiably concerned that stereotypes and bias will be used by law enforcement as state sanctioned.  When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was asked what criteria will be used as reasonable suspicion of a person's legal status in the U.S., she focused on the physical appearance of "illegal immigrants," stating:
    I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like.  I can tell you that there are people in Arizona that assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like.  I don't know if they know that for a fact or not, but I know that if AZPosts [Arizona Peace Officers] gets themselves together, works on this law, puts down the description that the law will be enforced civilly, fairly and without discriminatory points to it.

Giving state police the authority to simply create a description of what an illegal immigrant looks like is plainly racial profiling, which is why Mexico is concerned.

This inevitably will lead to casting an overbroad net in the pursuit of "illegal immigrants," with individuals being stopped based on appearance.

This unfair and disproportionate targeting of Hispanics and Latin-Americans in immigration enforcement is similar to that witnessed by young African-American males in criminal law enforcement.  One federal judge has analogized the dangers of racial profiling in immigration (border patrol enforcement) to the experience of driving while black:  "How is this practice distinguishable from the former practice of Southern peace officers who randomly stopped black pedestrians to inquire, 'Hey, boy, what are you doin' in this neighborhood?'."

B.  SB 1070's Harmful Effects Lead to Dangerous Harms Spanning From Physical Violence to Promotion of Negative, Ill-Conceived Stereotypes

Finally, Mexico, as a sovereign, needs to protect its people.  SB 1070 endangers this goal.  First, as demonstrated by New York City's experience in the mistaken shooting deaths of two black men, Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, and the brutal torture of a third black man, Abner Louima, one small mishap of racial profiling by law enforcement can lead to public outcry and distrust of law enforcement by local communities.

Additionally, racial profiling by law enforcement may encourage private organizations or citizens to target Mexican citizens, as seen when armed ranchers in Douglas, Arizona used unjustified force to arrest Hispanic persons crossing their land.

Second, SB 1070 promotes negative, ill-conceived stereotypes about "Mexican appearance."  The statute gives untrained local officials the authority to determine who fits "Mexican appearance" and who does not.  By sanctioning [pretextual] detainment and questioning of Hispanics or Latin Americans perceived to be "illegal aliens", the bill creates a social and political hotbed for further acts of discrimination or rights abrogation, perpetuating the cycle of exclusion.

For example, "[m]ost [persons of Mexican ancestry] are of dark complexion with black hair . . .  [b]ut many are blond, blue-eyed and 'white', while others have red hair and hazel eyes."

Furthermore, when aligned with other drastic measures, such as the recently enacted bill intended to ban the multicultural studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, it becomes unavoidable to see that Arizona's legislative efforts constitute a discriminatory policy.  SB 1070's discriminatory objective runs against the fundamental rights of people living in the United States.


For the foregoing reasons, amicus curiae respectfully requests that this Court declare SB 1070 unconstitutional in its entirety.