Arizona Governor Needlessly Freaks Out Over Human Rights Report To U.N.

An obscure U.N. human rights report has become the latest political outrage of the day in the battle over Arizona's controversial immigration law.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has sent a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over a human rights report to the United Nations that makes reference to Arizona’s controversial immigration law:

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is demanding that a reference to the state’s controversial immigration law be removed from a State Department report on human rights.

The United States lists its legal challenge to Arizona’s immigration enforcement measure on a list of ways the government is protecting human rights. It’s part of a report to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

In a letter Friday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brewer says it is “downright offensive” that a state law would be included in the report.

So what’s this all about ?

Last week, the United States submitted to the U.N. High Commissoner On Human Rights it’s Report Of The United States as required by our commitments under the U.N. human rights treaties to which we are a signatory. That report, which runs nearly 30 pages and covers a variety of areas, includes one single reference to the Arizona law:

A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.

That’s all. No condemnation of the law per se, merely a simple statement of the facts of the law, the controversy that erupted, and the present status of the lawsuit that the Federal Government filed against the State of Arizona arguing that the law is unconstitutional.

From this, however, Brewer somehow derives this:

Apparently, the federal government is trying to make an international human rights case out of S.B. 1070 on the heels of already filing a federal court case against the State of Arizona. The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a State of the United States to “review” by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional.

As one writer notes, though, Brewer is simply misguided in her rant about the UN report:

It’s just a report and an accurate one.  The federal government did step in to protect human rights.  The rights of all the citizens of Arizona not to be harassed based on their ethnicity.  There is a big problem with illegal immigration in the US, but pulling someone over for speeding and then, only because they look Hispanic, demanding that they prove their citizenship is harassment and unconstitutional.

Most importantly, though, whether the law is in fact unconstitutional is a matter that will be decided by the U.S. Courts, not by a United Nations commission. The idea that this report is some surrender of soverignty to the U.N. is, quite simply, absurd.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Borders and Immigration, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    There’s a reason bearing false witness is included in the ten commandments.  It hard to defend yourself against false accusations yet easy to make them.  Including the Arizona law in the report in such a manner is a false accusation.  It should be removed and an apology made.

  2. Please tell me where in the text that I quoted, or elsewhere in the report, there is any accusation made against the State of Arizona.

    You won’t find one.

  3. James says:

    I’m a conservative, and I have read the applicable section of the report and it doesn’t appear to be a really big deal.  But I can see why she is mad — She is protecting her approval ratings. 

  4. Dan says:

    Watching this from outside the US it’s just bizarre… too much politics not enough thinking!

  5. mantis says:

    The idea that this report is some surrender of soverignty to the U.N. is, quite simply, absurd.
    An absurd idea from an absurdist governor.  What would you expect?  She thinks there are marauding bands of Mexicans beheading everyone in the state, and that dying from lung cancer in the 50s is the same as dying fighting off Nazis in WWII.  It’s a confusing world.

  6. Dan,

    Watching this from outside the US it’s just bizarre… too much politics not enough thinking!

    Hang on, because the next 63 days are just likely to get even more bizarre

  7. Steve Plunk says:

    It’s the context Doug.  It’s a human rights report that mentions the controversy and what the federal government is doing to combat the law.  Obviously the federal government sees it as a human rights issue and that Arizona is violating someone’s rights.  If it’s no big deal why put it in?  That’s right, it is a big deal.

  8. JKB says:

    Well, I think the controversy is good in that it will cause more Americans to read this pretty offensive document to discover how our bureaucrats represent the US.  Right in the first sentence they start with trying to downplay America’s contribution to freedom worldwide:

    The story of the United States of America is one guided by universal values shared the
    world over—that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights.
     

    Really?  worldwide?  Have these people ever read up or visited many of the countries in the UN?  But not to worry, when they need to they take the opposite view.  Such as this excerpt from the section where they seek to imply Arizona isn’t human rights friendly:
     

    Over the last 50 years, the U.S. has accepted several million refugees
    fleeing persecution from all corners of the globe as well as many millions of immigrants seeking a better life or joining family.

    So millions come here to escape persecution but all created equal with inalienable rights is a universal worldwide view?
     
    Then there is just the absurd:

    The United States has a free, thriving, and diverse independent press—a feature that
    existed before the advent of electronic and digital media and that continues today.

    Let’s see free, well I’ll give them that.  Thriving – Well, there is Fox News.  diverse – ???  independent – I guess they didn’t get the Journolist memo.
     
    In reality it is a document obviously written by progressives who did show a decent amount of restraint in not going off on a rant against America.  But the inclusion of the remarks about SB 1070, shows the partisan political influence since there is no international human rights interest in whether the federal government enforces the nation’s immigration laws or a State enforces those same laws.  Unless their intent was to imply that the Obama administration was going to support human rights by not enforcing laws rather than actually changing them.

  9. Offensive ? Hardly

  10. reid says:

    JKB: Your outrage meter is in need of recalibration.

  11. mantis says:

    Really?  worldwide?
    Yes, really, unless you think that the American idea that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights is not shared all over the world.  Oh wait, I see.  You want to be retarded and read that as a claim that all other governments adhere to our principles.  That’s not what the document says.  Outrage FAIL.

    Such as this excerpt from the section where they seek to imply Arizona isn’t human rights friendly:
    It implies no such thing.

    So millions come here to escape persecution but all created equal with inalienable rights is a universal worldwide view?
    Again, when you base your objection on a misreading (possibly intentional), then of course you’re going to find all sorts of things wrong with what follows.  The problem isn’t the text though, but your perversion of it.

    Let’s see free, well I’ll give them that.  Thriving – Well, there is Fox News.  diverse – ???  independent – I guess they didn’t get the Journolist memo.
    So your claim is that we don’t have a thriving press except for Fox News, and our press isn’t independent because a bunch of journalists and writers shared ideas on a listserv?  Seriously, how do you get this dumb?

    But the inclusion of the remarks about SB 1070, shows the partisan political influence since there is no international human rights interest in whether the federal government enforces the nation’s immigration laws or a State enforces those same laws.
    It’s the laws themselves that are the problem.  The document states:
    The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law.
    Quite correctly.  The federal government sets immigration law.  Arizona’s law is unconstitutional, and not the State’s responsibility anyway.  So it’s not just enforcement, it’s policy.  Even if it weren’t, and it only involved enforcement, it would still be appropriate in some instances to talk about enforcement in a human rights report.

    Unless their intent was to imply that the Obama administration was going to support human rights by not enforcing laws rather than actually changing them.
    Reading is hard, isn’t it?  “The issue is being addressed in a court action…”  That’s changing the law, insofar as it will be ruled unconstitutional.

    So little understanding of what you read, yet so much flailing outrage.  The rightwing M.O., I guess.
     
     
     
     

  12. Juneau: says:

    Inclusion of the Arizona measure in the report is stating by inference that the law falls under the purview of the UN Human Rights Commission, and is a Human Rights violation issue.  If you can’t acknowledge that the idea of the US Government reporting this about one of the members of the Union, in essence submitting the State to international review of its sovereign laws, is wrong… then there really is no common ground for discussion.

  13. Jay Tea says:

    Here’s the lie in the report, Doug:

    The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law.

    Arizona is not challenging the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration law. It’s challenging whether the federal government has the EXCLUSIVE authority.
     
    The way it’s worded, the Obama administration is saying that Arizona wants to take away the federal government’s power to set and enforce policy. And that is a lie.
     
    Further, not giving Arizona a courtesy “head-up” is astonishingly improper. But then again, this is the same administration that also let Arizona know it was challenging its law through news reports, and not bothering to call and say “by the way, we’ll be seeing you in court.”
     
    No, it’s not required. But dammit, it’s completely unprofessional and unpresidential.
     
    In other words, par for the course.
     
    J.

  14. Arizona is not challenging the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration law. It’s challenging whether the federal government has the EXCLUSIVE authority

    Exactly, that’s what the Court system is for.

    And there’s nothing in that paragraph in the UN report that misrepresents the nature of the law, or the nature of the lawsuit that the Federal Government filed. You can disagree with one or the other, but Brewer’s freakout is either blatant politics or it’s just irrational.

  15. Jay Tea says:

    But that’s not what the Obama report said. Come on, Doug, you’re an attorney. Read the actual wording — “exclusive” was neither explicitly or implicitly there. It was factually wrong.
     
    J.

  16. The core argument of the Federal lawsuit is the argument that the Arizona law impinges on the Federal Government’s exclusive authority to enforce immigration law and make immigration policy.

    So, again, I don’t see where there’s a mis-statement of fact here. And I certainly don’t see a reason to freak out over one line in a report that is just going to end up getting filed away somewhere.

  17. Jay Tea says:

    Here are the reasons to not freak out, but note with interest:
     
    1)Adding “exclusive” to that one line would have added 10 characters to the entire report (including a space) and made it far more accurate instead of misleading.
    B) The misleading is perfectly in line with how the Obama administration has misrepresented the Arizona law from the outset, turning this report into one more cheap shot in the fight.
    III) The issue itself has NOTHING to do with the HCR report, and had no business there except to advance the Obama administration’s fight to its right to do nothing on illegal immigration, and keep anyone else from doing anything either.
    d) Escalating the fight over the Arizona law to an international stage, without even a courtesy notice to Arizona saying “FYI, we’re reporting you to the UN” phone call, shows exceptional classlessness and contempt — as I said, utterly par for the course for this administration.
     
    J.

  18. Jay Tea says:

    One final point: if the principle is that local law enforcement can not enforce federal laws, then when can we expect cops to stop responding to bank robberies, kidnappings, terrorist attacks, and the like?
     
    J.

  19. davod says:

    The whole report is a mish-mash designed to once again emphasize the USA is nothing to write home about.

    “In its first-ever report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on conditions in the United States, the State Department said Monday that some Americans, notably minorities, are still victims of discrimination. Despite success in reforming such inequities as slavery and the denial of women’s right to vote, the department said, considerable progress is still needed.”

    Ending of slavery and denial of women’s right to vote?  Would someone reading this report realise Slavery was ended with the 14th amendment in 1865, and the right to vote was approved with the 19th amendment in 1920. Or will they think that Obama has been busy.