Today in Latin America
Top Story — Despite hundreds of protesters outside voicing their concerns over racial profiling, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated Wednesday that it would not address civil rights concerns over Arizona’s controversial immigration law, known as SB 1070. The case will determine whether or not the state of Arizona has a legal right to allow police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the person has entered the U.S. illegally. However, the justices indicated Wednesday that they are merely seeking to address whether the law allows states to enforce federal immigration laws. Arizona officials, including Gov. Jan Brewer, emerged from the courtroom encouraged by the justices’ statements, though Brewer had an uncomfortable encounter with the crowd of protesters outside. Referring to fears of racial profiling, Brewer said the Obama administration was “trying to use that scare card to generate support for the election.” Lawyers for the Justice Department said that there are other lawsuits pending against SB 1070 that would directly challenge the law on civil rights grounds.
Read more from the New York Times.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- U.S. immigration officials said that they were expecting to suspend 16,000 deportation cases, or 7.5 percent of the roughly 300,000 under review, in response to an Obama administration policy to focus on criminal cases.
- Mexican President Felipe Calderón said his administration’s policies are partly responsible for the decrease in Mexican immigration to the U.S. cited by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 18,500 acres of the Bosque de la Primavera in Guadalajara, Mexico burned in a forest fire over the weekend. According to Mexican officials, efforts to extinguish the blaze were complicated by armed gangs that confronted firefighters with weapons.
- A delegation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade and Labor Affairs arrived in the Dominican Republic to investigate allegations that Dominican sugar growers are using child labor, in violation of a free trade agreement.
- Haitian President Michel Martelly made a public video address Wednesday from Miami, where he is still recovering from surgery and a pulmonary embolism.
- The director of Cuban film “Una Noche”, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, did not appear at a scheduled press conference on Tuesday after two of her film’s lead actors disappeared on a stopover in Miami.
- El Salvador’s Center of Telecommunications Tapping (CITE), a wiretapping agency expected to open in May with the objective of fighting drug trafficking, received a $5 million donation from the U.S. government that includes training from the FBI.
- Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli publicly apologized for implying that reporter Hugo Famanias was a drug addict at a press conference last Thursday. Panama’s journalist union called for a march to protest the remarks on Tuesday.
- Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said five suspects have been arrested in a money laundering ring that handled up to $10 million in cash operations and may have ties to Venezuelan politicians.
- Senate Armed Services Committee veterans Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona said they were dissatisfied with a Senate briefing on the prostitution scandal now involving at least 24 U.S. military and Secret Service members visiting Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.
- A Peruvian judge approved a U.S. request to extradite Joran Van der Sloot, who is presently serving 28 years for murdering Peruvian woman Stephany Flores and is a prime suspect in the murder of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway.
- Thousands of Chilean students marched in the streets Wednesday as Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced that tax reforms would raise $700 million to reform Chile’s educational system.
- Brazil’s lower house of Congress is expected to pass controversial changes to Brazil’s Forest Code, which would lower requirements for farmers to replant cleared land, among other changes.
- A Brazilian prostitute allegedly pushed from a car by U.S. Marines said that an attorney and secretary had told her not to file a complaint.
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