Just reading that last night the State of Texas put to death "Mexican" national Humberto Leal Garcia for the 1994 rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl. This execution took place despite efforts by the White House, the Government of Mexico, the UN, the OAS, a host of NGOs, and others to halt the execution because Leal had not been notified at the time of his arrest that he had the right to consult the Mexican consulate. He reportedly died yelling, "Viva Mexico!"
I agree that the execution of Leal last night is an outrage. He should have been executed about fifteen years ago.
In the course of my career I have had to deal with stories such as the Leal case. Almost always they involve somebody here illegally who commits a heinous crime, and is not even particularly aware that he has the right to contact his consul. In many cases, the Leal case seems to be one, the criminal is not even aware that he is the national of another country, as he has been in the US for many, many years. Leal apparently arrived in the US as an infant. The access to the consul issue only arises late in the process when slick appeals attorneys, looking for anything to save a murdering scum client, discover the matter of the consular access. This is a bogus issue. Some Texas sheriff does not have the obligation to advise a detainee that he has the right to his nation's consul. That is something for which the detainee needs to ask: IF he asks, then the police have the obligation to pass along the request to the appropriate embassy or consulate. There is no evidence that Leal asked, and, of course, none that Texas law enforcement denied his request to see a Mexican official. Should the police notify the German, Irish, or Italian Embassy every time somebody with a German, Irish, or Italian name is arrested? Should they automatically assume that anybody arrested who "looks" Mexican is a Mexican? Anybody with a Jewish name should have the Israeli Embassy notified? Can you see the law suits over racial profiling? Lawyers would get rich (er)!
In addition to all that, what does access to a consul entail? The consul shows up, if he does; hears out the arrested person; checks to see that he is not being treated any differently than any other prisoner in similar circumstances; offers to notify family in the home country; and then tells the arrested person to get a lawyer. That's about it. Nothing in this is germane to the case or to the process that was followed. The consul has no bag of tricks that would have saved Leal.
So this brutal rapist murderer died praising Mexico, eh? Gee, that must send a patriotic thrill up the leg of every Mexican citizen. Here's a suggestion for Mexico: keep your murderers home, and then you can give them access to the wonderful Mexican system of justice.
UPDATE: I see from some comments and emails I have gotten that there is a misunderstanding. Local law enforcement is not obligated to investigate a detainee's nationality. The arrested person must make known that he is a foreign national and wants to see his consular representative. Leal never did that.