Mexico’s Illegals Laws Tougher Than Arizona’s

Jerry Seper, Washington Times, May 3, 2010

Mexican President Felipe Calderon denounced as “racial discrimination” an Arizona law giving state and local police the authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants and vowed to use all means at his disposal to defend Mexican nationals against a law he called a “violation of human rights.”

But the legislation, signed April 23 by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, is similar to Reglamento de la Ley General de Poblacion–the General Law on Population enacted in Mexico in April 2000, which mandates that federal, local and municipal police cooperate with federal immigration authorities in that country in the arrests of illegal immigrants.

Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.

The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.

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Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican and a member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, described Mr. Calderon’s criticism as “arrogant and hypocritical.” {snip}

“Mexico wants people to come to the United States and to send their money home,” he said. “They want to make their problems our problems–that’s their foreign policy. President Calderon should spend more time focusing on problems in his own country instead of criticizing Arizona for doing what Mexican law requires its own to do.”

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Ricardo Alday, a spokesman at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, did not return calls for comment.

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A Rasmussen Reports poll has found that 70 percent of likely voters in Arizona approve of the legislation, while 23 percent oppose it.

Half of the nearly 1 million illegal border crossings into the United States each year occur in Arizona, according to a report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which also said Arizona taxpayers spend more than $2 billion a year on education and health care for illegal immigrants and their children.

“The porous border is virtually a welcome mat for criminal organizations that run drugs and other contraband through the state,” the immigration watchdog group said, adding that kidnappings in Phoenix are at a record high.

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In signing the bill, Mrs. Brewer said she would “not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling” and emphasized an amendment to the bill that prevents law enforcement personnel from using a person’s race as the only factor in implementing the law.

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During a Phoenix news conference last week, MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said “a vigorous and sophisticated legal challenge will be mounted” before the bill’s implementation this summer “to prevent this unconstitutional and discriminatory law from ever taking effect.”

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Amnesty International called the abuse of migrants in Mexico a major human rights crisis Wednesday, and accused some officials of turning a blind eye or even participating in the kidnapping, rape and murder of migrants.

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The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that the mainly Central American migrants who pass through Mexico on their way to the United States suffer abuses, but attributed the problem to criminal gangs branching out into kidnapping and extortion of migrants.

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Central American migrants are frequently pulled off trains, kidnapped en masse, held at gang hideouts and forced to call relatives in the U.S. to pay off the kidnappers. Such kidnappings affect thousands of migrants each year in Mexico, the report says.

Many are beaten, raped or killed in the process.

One of the main issues, Amnesty says, is that migrants fear they will be deported if they complain to Mexican authorities about abuses.

At present, Article 67 of Mexico’s Population Law says, “Authorities, whether federal, state or municipal . . . are required to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country, before attending to any issues.”

The Interior Department said the government has taken some steps to combat abuses and Mexico’s legislature is working to repeal Article 67 “so that no one can deny or restrict foreigners’ access to justice and human rights, whatever their migratory status.”

The Amnesty report said one female migrant told researchers that Mexican federal police had forced her group off a train and stolen their belongings. Forced to walk, she said, she was subsequently attacked by a gang and raped.

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