Today in Latin America
Top Story — The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which penalizes companies that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants. The ruling, which passed five to three, lends more momentum to Arizona’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the state in the face of what Governor Jan Brewer and others in the state government see as lax federal enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Arizona has taken the route least likely to cause tension with federal law,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. Arizona’s law bars the intentional hiring of an undocumented immigrants and employers that violate the statute repeatedly could lose their license to conduct business.
While federal law prevents states from imposing civil and criminal penalties for immigration violations, Arizona’s license revocation statute doesn’t fall into the category, Roberts added.
Brewer, along with Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, declared Thursday’s ruling a big victory for the state. “In light of today’s decision, I am more adamant than ever that states do have a complimentary role in enforcing federal immigration laws, despite the Obama Administration’s opposition at every turn,” Brewer said in a statement. “I want to assure Arizonans, and all Americans, that the state of Arizona will not rest until the federal government secures our border and enforces federal immigration laws.”
Besides punishing employers who hire undocumented immigrants, the law also requires the use of the federal government’s E-Verify system, a computer database that matches the Social Security number and driver’s license information from an employment application with the same information stored in government records.
“The Supreme Court has essentially given its seal of approval to states making E-Verify mandatory for businesses in their jurisdiction,” said Mike Hethmon of the Immigration Reform law Center.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer disagreed with the ruling and claimed it will disrupt the balance of federal law. The law prevents employers from hiring undocumented workers, but it also discriminates against workers who speak with an accent or look like they might be immigrants, he added.
Employers “will hesitate to hire those they fear will turn out to lack the right to work in the United States,” he said, according to The Daily Mail newspaper.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- About 140,000 Uruguayans left their country in the aftermath of the 2001 financial crisis. Now, tiny Uruguay’s booming economy is luring them back. Mariana Bueno reports from Montevideo.
- An estimated 300,000 migrants cross Mexico’s southern border every year on their way to the United States. A network of shelters has developed across Mexico to aid the migrants in their travels.Photographer John Sevigny visited one of these shelters in the northern city of Saltillo and shared these images with us.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A shootout between rival drug cartels left 28 people dead near Ruiz in the Mexican pacific coast state of Nayarit.
- Mexico’s National Arts Council confirmed the death of British-born Surrealist painter and sculptor Leonora Carrington at the age of 94.
- Some 310,000 Cubans are now working legally for themselves, since the Castro government expanded self-employment last fall.
- The cost of making a phone call or sending money to Haiti will soon go up as part of President Michel Martelly’s plan to raise money to advance the goal of free education.
- The Dominican Republic is tightening controls on fuel sales in order to reduce the number of drug flights that use the country as a refueling point for cocaine smuggling.
- The Committee to Protect Journalists called upon Honduran authorities to put an end to the record level of violence against the press, following the murder of a media owner and the wounding of a newspaper manager.
- The remains of 10,000 disappeared have been identified by Colombia’s government.
- With less than 10 days to go before Peru’s presidential run-off election, conservative Keiko Fujimori has pulled ahead of leftwing Ollanta Humala, according to a poll by Datum.
- Ecuador expects to obtain higher royalties from copper, gold and silver mines to be tapped by U.S. and Canadian companies.
- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff defended her chief-of-staff Thursday, who is under pressure to explain how he increased his wealth 20-fold as a consultant to businesses during his tenure as federal deputy.
- Chile, along with Colombia and Peru, launched an Andean stock exchange to help capitalize on investor interest in the region.
- A Global Peace report named Uruguay as the most peaceful country in Latin America, followed by Costa Rica and Chile.
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will visit Uruguay in June, as the country holds the UN Human Rights Council.
Image: ADLavinsky @ Flickr.