Mexico Files Amicus Brief in Arizona Immigration Litigation

October 19, 2010

Arizona’s controversial new immigration law continues to yield interesting story lines.  You may remember that the United States Department of Justice sued Arizona, seeking to invalidate several sections of the new law, which resulted in a preliminary injunction granted by an Arizona Federal District Court Judge in July.  Arizona appealed the injunction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Mexico recently filed a brief as amicus curiae.  Arizona and its governor, Jan Brewer, have now asked the court for an opportunity to file a response to Mexico’s brief.  Their motion (available on Westlaw via the docket for the case) states, in part:

Governor Brewer and the State of Arizona respectfully submit that the opinions of foreign governments have no bearing on whether a state law providing for cooperative enforcement of federal immigration law in Arizona complies with the United States Constitution.

Should a U.S. court consider the arguments of a foreign government?  The Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure that governs amicus briefs (Rule 29, found via a search for pr,ca(“appellate procedure” & amic!) in the US-RULES database) says nothing regarding the propriety of a foreign government filing an amicus brief.  It does require that a potential friend-of-the-court, other than the United States (or a U.S. officer or agency), a State, Territory, Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia, obtain leave of court or the consent of all parties before filing a brief as amicus curiae.  Mexico sought and obtained permission from the court to file its brief.  Rule 29 also requires that the brief be accompanied by a statement of interest and reason(s) why the brief is desirable and relevant to the appeal.

In its brief (also available on the docket), Mexico cites several reasons for its interest:

Mexico seeks to ensure that its citizens present in the U.S. are accorded the human and civil rights granted under the U.S. Constitution…  The issues raised herein are of great importance to the people of Mexico, including the almost twenty million Mexican workers, tourists and students recently admitted to the U.S., those already present in the U.S., the countless millions whose daily lives and jobs depend on international trade, and those who may also be affected by immigration policies and drug violence.  In addition, Mexico respectfully submits that SB 1070 adversely impacts U.S.–Mexico bilateral relations, Mexican citizens and other people of Latin-American descent present in Arizona.