Governor DeSantis faces backlash over anti-immigrant policies as Mexican diplomat ramps up support for Raquel López Aguilar's case
The arrest of Raquel López Aguilar, a Mexican national accused of bringing undocumented migrants into Florida, is fueling a diplomatic rift between DeSantis and Mexico. This case marks the first instance of a Mexican national being charged under Florida's new law targeting those who transport undocumented migrants. Mexican officials in Florida, under the direction of President Andres Manuel López Obrador, are intensifying efforts to defend Mexicans accused of violating this law, including López Aguilar. The case is viewed as pivotal in setting a legal precedent for future prosecutions.
Raquel López Aguilar: Diplomatic efforts and accusations
While on the way to visit Raquel López Aguilar at a Hernando County jail, Mexican Consul Juan Sabines described the state's case against him as unjust. Sabines emphasized the significance of this case in shaping the future of prosecutions under Florida's immigration law. He has also accused Governor Ron DeSantis of using the law for political benefits as he runs for the presidency.
Sabines revealed that the Mexican government is providing resources to support López Aguilar's legal defense. Despite repeated attempts to engage in dialogue with DeSantis and his administration about the law, Mexican officials have received no response. This silence is indicative of deteriorating relations between Mexico and Florida, which were once characterized by close economic ties and cooperation.
Legal complexities and ongoing litigation
López Aguilar faces multiple felony counts, including human smuggling, under Florida's new law, in addition to a misdemeanor for an invalid driver’s license. His arrest occurred when a Florida Highway Patrol trooper pulled him over for vehicle infractions. Federal Border Patrol agents later determined that López Aguilar and all 6 passengers had entered the state unlawfully.
Legal experts, including attorney Mark Arias, representing López Aguilar through the Mexican government's External Legal Assistance Program, argue that Florida's law oversteps its boundaries. They contend that immigration policy falls under federal jurisdiction, not that of individual states. Arias expressed doubt about the state's ability to prove a violation of Florida's immigration law.
Read the story on the Miami Herald.