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L.A. vs. Arizona: Who wins in immigration law dust-up?

L.A. Has voted to boycott Arizona because of its immigration law, and the UN has suggested it could violate human rights. Will any of this matter to Arizonans?

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The six UN experts – from Mexico, Kenya, the United States, and Costa Ricawrote: "A disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established with the adoption of an immigration law that may allow for police action targeting individuals on the basis of their perceived ethnic origin."

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The US – unlike many other countries – has carefully avoided subjecting itself to international laws which would govern or otherwise be given effect with the US without there being a separate domestic law to implement that international law within the country.

“The general rule is that provisions of international laws are not self-executing within the USA absent an implementing domestic law. So the opinions of the UN experts cannot be enforced or given any legal effect within the US,” says Niels W. Frenzen, a professor and director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

“They are certainly powerful opinions which convey the growing international condemnation of the Arizona laws and their statements and opinions strengthen the political opposition to what Arizona has done,” he adds.

Hispanic leaders said that no matter what Arizona does, the UN action has moral teeth.

“I don’t know if the UN statement will make them repeal the law, but it is bringing international attention to how ill advised, mean spirited and racist this law is,” says Mr. Vargas.

Others say the UN statement will help with legal challenges to the immigration law. “The UN response is welcome although tepid,” says Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “Its impact will be felt strongest when this inhumane law goes to court because it will speak to the universal chaos it has created.”

Three lawsuits seeking to block the implementation of SB 1070 are pending in federal court.