November 1, 2010 / 9:24 PM / in 8 years

U.N. says migrants face worst racism, Arizona law cited

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Migrants bear the brunt of discrimination around the world, and Arizona’s controversial immigration law is the kind of policy that could open the door to human rights abuses, a U.N. investigator said on Monday.

“If I have any specific group ... subject to the most insidious contemporary forms of racial discrimination, then those are migrants,” said U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and xenophobia, Githu Muigai.

“In many parts of the world today, immigrants bear the brunt of xenophobic intolerance,” Muigai, a Kenyan lawyer, told reporters.

“This is true of the United States, as it is of Europe, as indeed it is in many parts of the world.”

He cited the example of the U.S. state of Arizona’s immigration law, which would require police in the course of a lawful stop to determine the status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

That law, the subject of a fierce legal battle in the U.S. court system, has been scrutinized and criticized around the world, partly due to concerns it would encourage racial profiling and promote discrimination.

Muigai said there was nothing barring countries from implementing “a fair, open and transparent migration policy.” But the Arizona law is something different.

He said it “equips a policeman ... with such immense powers as to compromise in my point of view the very, very fundamental human rights that ought to be enjoyed in such an enlightened part of the world as Arizona.”

“What I find difficult ... to reconcile to is the stigmatization, the negative stereotyping that goes with ethnic profiling,” Muigai said, adding that “an immigration policy that does not respond to minimum international human rights standards is inherently ... suspect.”

A U.S. federal district judge in July put on hold key parts of the state law known as SB 1070, arguing that immigration matters are the federal government’s responsibility.

Arizona on Monday asked U.S. appellate judges to allow the law to go into effect while the legal battle continues.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jerry Norton

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