Deported Mexican activist to Obama: stop immigration raids

A deported Mexican woman who took sanctuary in a Chicago church to highlight immigrants’ rights is asking President Barack Obama to call a halt to immigration raids. Elvira Arellano says she is hopeful that Obama will help pass an immigration reform that stops dividing families. She spoke to reporters outside the US Embassy in Mexico City, where she gave officials a letter asking Obama to sign an executive order stopping the raids and deportations. (AP, Jan. 22)

The presidential transition highlighted questions related to border security and the rights of Mexican immigrants in the US. In one of his final acts, outgoing President George Bush on Jan. 19 granted early prison release to two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting an alleged Mexican drug dealer at a crossing in El Paso. Ignacio Ramos and José Compean were each sentenced to more than 10 years for the shooting, which they tried to cover up. They will be released within two months. (AP, Jan. 20)

Also Jan. 19, the International Court of Justice ruled that the US defied its order last year when authorities in Texas executed a Mexican national convicted of rape and murder. The UN’s highest court said the US remains obliged to review the cases of about 50 other Mexicans on death row because they were denied access to their consulate after they were arrested. It rejected Mexico’s request that Washington guarantee that each case will be individually reconsidered. “It was a mixed result,” said John Bellinger III, the legal adviser to the US State Department.

The US had argued to the World Court that the federal government had no authority to tell the state courts what to do. Mexico argued that US obligations to abide by international law also applied to state governments. In 2004, the World Court found that the US had violated an international treaty by failing to advise 51 Mexicans of their consular rights. But the US Supreme Court ruled last year that President Bush had exceeded his authority when he issued a directive in 2005 to the states to comply with a World Court demand for a judicial review of all cases.

Following that ruling, Mexico petitioned the World Court to stop the impending executions of five of its citizens. The World Court issued an emergency injunction last July, but three weeks later Texas prison authorities gave a lethal injection to José Medellín, convicted of the rape and murder of two teenage girls. The 12 World Court judges unanimously ruled the US “has breached the obligation incumbent upon it” in the Medellín case. The Mexican government applauded the ruling in a statement and urged the incoming Obama administration to “take concrete actions” to comply with the ruling and “respect the rights of all Mexican nationals.” (AP, Jan. 20)

See our last posts on the politics of immigration and the struggle for the border.