N° 47/10


IACHR Expresses concern over new immigration law in the state of arizona in the united states


Washington, DC, April 28, 2010 – The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) expresses deep concern over the new immigration law approved in the State of Arizona in the United States.


The law, which was signed on April 23, 2010 and would enter into force in three months, requires all police officers in Arizona to question any individual regarding his or her immigration status if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is unlawfully in the United States. Likewise, the law establishes that the presence of an undocumented immigrant in Arizona is a criminal offense and that person will be guilty of the crime of “trespassing,” which carries a prison sentence of up to six months, a monetary fine, as well as paying all prison costs.


First, the Inter-American Commission expresses its deep concern with the high risk of racial discrimination in the implementation of the law. Second, the Commission is concerned with the criminalization of the presence of undocumented persons. In this regard, the IACHR wishes to recall that international norms establish that detention should be applied only under exceptional circumstances and only after it has been determined, in each individual case, to be necessary and proportional. As the IACHR indicated in July 2008 in its resolution regarding the “Return Directive” adopted by the European Parliament on June 18th of that year, States should avoid prolonged detention in every case and should ensure that detention be for the shortest period possible. In addition, the detention must be ordered by a competent authority, which by general rule must be a judge.


International law recognizes that countries may establish mechanisms to control the entry and departure of foreigners to their territory. Likewise, international law establishes that a State’s actions in this context must be applied with strict regard for the rights of the people affected and with observation of fundamental principles such as non-discrimination and the rights to liberty and personal integrity, which cannot be subordinated to the implementation of public policy objectives.


The Inter-American Commission exhorts U.S. authorities to find adequate measures to modify the recently approved law in the State of Arizona in order to bring it into accordance with international human rights standards for the protection of migrants.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.


Useful links:

IACHR Resolution 03/08 on the EU Return Directive

IACHR Press Office

IACHR website





Read this press release in Spanish / Lea este comunicado de prensa en español


Press contact: María Isabel Rivero
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