Arizona Immigration Debate Goes International

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The Arizona illegal immigration fight goes international. A group of U.N. human rights experts is seriously concerned about Arizona's law. Now, why? Joining us live is Jim Anaya, a U.N.-appointed independent expert on human rights. He's also a University of Arizona law professor. Good evening, Jim.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, looking at this new statute, which part to you violates any human rights? What's the objectionable part?

ANAYA: The problem with the law is that it seems to represent a general pattern of animosity towards ethnic or racial minorities in Arizona.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me stop you right there. You say -- let me just stop you there. You're a lawyer and says "seems to represent." You and I both know that when you look at a statute to see whether it's objectionable, you look at the clear language. You don't see what might think or what it seems to or whatever it is.

ANAYA: Well, let me just say...

VAN SUSTEREN: You look at it. So I'm looking at this statute, saying, which part is the part that you think is racial profiling or unconstitutional?

ANAYA: I haven't said it is racial profiling or unconstitutional. I've joined a number of human rights experts speaking in our capacity as United Nations human rights experts raising concerns about the possible application of the law and the underlying sentiments that it seems to represent.

What we are trying to do is point out the potential for the law to be discriminatory and to involve racial profiling.

VAN SUSTEREN: Stop there -- "possible application." Every time a police officer makes an arrest there's a possibility the police officer is going to go beyond the Fourth Amendment and violate constitutional rights. Every single arrest has that possibility.


ANAYA: What we are doing is trying to avoid that and trying to minimize that by pointing out difficulties that many have raised with the law.

There is a wide gap in perceptions about the law among different legal experts that have looked to it. We are observing from the standpoint of international human rights experts speaking in our capacity trying to avoid situations in the future that could infringe on human rights standards.

The underlying concern here is the United States' obligation, an obligation that runs through the states to not simply avoid specific acts that discrimination or violate norms of anti-discrimination, but its obligation to promote understanding among different groups --

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm with you. I'm totally with you. I'm opposed to human rights violations. I'm wondering whether you can put Arizona in the same category of China, the Sudan --

ANAYA: We're not doing that.


VAN SUSTEREN: What you are saying is the possible application of this, and I guess that's what I'm struggling with. I don't even think Arizona needs this law. Our last guest you might have heard me say that. There's nothing new in the law.

ANAYA: That's the point. So what's it doing then?

VAN SUSTEREN: I tell you what I think --

ANAYA: -- the underlying sentiment that I've raised that the United Nations human rights experts are concerned about.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think it's a human rights violation.

ANAYA: We haven't said that specifically. We said it raises concerns about that --


VAN SUSTEREN: Where? This is no different than any other statute, if you going to say that.

ANAYA: No, it's not. No it's not. It's not the same as human rights statute. It raises concerns about specific acts that could occur of racial profiling and discrimination against persons.


VAN SUSTEREN: Have you read this -- let me stop you --

ANAYA: Yes, I have read it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Stop for a second, Jim. It says "for any lawful contact." That's what the starting point is.

ANAYA: What does exactly does that mean, any lawful contact?


VAN SUSTEREN: We give that authority to cops every single day. We tell them to stop people.


ANAYA: But now with any lawful contact they are required to on the basis of reasonable suspicion question people on the basis of their immigration status. And in Arizona it is hard to imagine reasonable suspicion about immigration status existing without raising a significant factor.

And that's the concern, given the demographics of Arizona. And that's why you have a huge polarization between minorities who may be the subjects of this law at majority that is afraid of the law. And that itself raises a red flag and a concern.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think is a fight that we all don't really need to be having. I'm opposed to human rights violations.

ANAYA: I agree, and that's our point, that is our point.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not sure this law does anything other than a red flag to the federal government, quit lying to us or --

ANAYA: It sends a red flag that there's something underlying this law, and that's what we are trying to point out and avoid an escalation of this kind of attitude that could result in patterns of discrimination.

Now, the role of the United Nations mechanism is not simply to point out violations but to act in cooperation with the government's concerns to avoid those violations in the future. I hope you can understand that. We are not -- please --

VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, I just hope you have that same view if the teacher is correct about what is being taught in ethnic studies in terms of raising all sorts of hatred and creating problems between the several segments of our population down there. Human rights has to go both ways.

ANAYA: If in fact that's what we are doing, then of course we would raise the same concerns about that. But what we see is the anti- ethnic studies law doing the opposite of what are saying. It is based on an animosity, we fear, and that several indications show, an animosity towards minorities in the state, not the opposite.

And one needs to look at the context --


VAN SUSTEREN: There should be no animosity either way --

ANAYA: Absolutely, we in agreement there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, Jim --

ANAYA: Problem is there isn't a level playing field --

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm sorry, Jim, we don't have any more time because we have a lot more to discuss. Anyway, I hope you come back.

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