The government of Mexico has aligned itself with municipalities suing the state of Texas over a new law that, if implemented, would crack down on sanctuary cities, arguing that the state’s action hurts Mexico’s relationship with Washington.
Lawyers for the Mexican government argue that Texas Senate Bill 4 creates unnecessary tension in relations between Mexico and the United States. It forces Mexico to treat Texas differently than other states and interferes with diplomatic interests and ongoing negotiations on a range of bilateral matters, from trade to security.
“Given the importance of the international relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, it is essential that Mexico be able to approach its discussions with one consistent negotiating partner rather than having to enter into 50 different negotiations with each state regarding the type and extent of immigration enforcement that will occur in that state,” the Mexican government writes in an amicus brief filed late Thursday night.
In August, a federal judge in San Antonio temporarily halted the implementation of the state law that punishes officials who don’t honor requests by immigration authorities to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally. But the state appealed and, last month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans allowed Texas officials to implement part of the law while awaiting a full hearing on the appeal in November.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law in May. It would prevent municipalities from adopting their own policies to limit enforcement of immigration laws and empowers police officers to question people about their immigration status when they are detained.
Civil rights activists in Texas and around the country say the law will promote racial profiling. Some call it the “show your papers” law.
Mexico is the third largest U.S. trading partner and a crucial ally in a wide range of security, migration and trade issues. The two sides are currently in heated trade negotiations over NAFTA, the trade agreement that Trump has threatened to exit if the United States, Mexico and Canada can’t work out a better deal for the United States.
The Mexican government says the Texas law will only make it harder to reach an agreement on this and other diplomatic matters between the two countries.
Leon Fresco, a lawyer representing the government of Mexico, argues in the brief that SB-4 has already harmed the relationship between Mexico and the United States. Mexican consulate officials in Texas have been flooded with calls from scared Mexican nationals. Fears are so widespread that Mexican nationals were afraid to seek government assistance during Hurricane Harvey.
“The reason immigration law is meant to be federal is because when 50 states pass 50 different laws, this negatively impacts foreign policy in ways that the federal government is unable to control,” Fresco said when reached by phone.