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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews Around the Republic of Mexico 

Mexico Braces for Deportations Under Arizona Law
email this pageprint this pageemail usLeticia Pineda - Agence France-Presse
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July 29, 2010

Young boys protest across the street from the White House in Washington, DC. (Agence France-Presse)
Nogales, Mexico Mexico braced for mass deportations as a new Arizona immigration law was due to take effect, though a US federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of the legislation.

An estimated 460,000 undocumented migrants, most of them Mexican, live in the US state of Arizona, where the law proposed by Governor Jan Brewer aims to make illegal immigration a crime and penalize anyone helping undocumented workers.

Hours after federal judge Susan Bolton blocked parts of the law, which is opposed by the Barack Obama administration, Brewer vowed to appeal and take the case to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

Inhabitants of Arizona's neighboring Mexican state of Sonora have prepared for a mass return of Mexicans, who traditionally travel northwards for work, when the law is due to take effect on July 29.

State governor Guillermo Padres this week visited hostels along the border.

In Nogales, Mexico, across from the US border city of the same name, Padres said schools had also made extra room.

"No one knows how many people will come. There's a good chance there'll be lots of Mexicans. We'll all going to be prepared," Padres said.

Workers in hostels in the city of more than 200,000 inhabitants said they had already planned for a wave of returning compatriots.

"We're prepared to receive 350 people and we've contacted transport companies to cheaply take people to their home towns," Francisco Luvreiro, director of the Juan Bosco hostel, told AFP.

Luvreiro said the number of deportees had dropped in the past month from almost 300 to some 50 per day, which made locals predict that people were being held for a mass deportation once the law was in place.

There was also a recent drop in the number of migrants, including many from Central America as well as Mexicans, who usually stop off in Nogales before attempting to cross the scorching desert into the United States, he added.

The law has raised concern it will lead to ethnic profiling by state police, and the US government filed a suit against Arizona in a bid to block it.

"The law is no good. We won't be able to calmly visit our family or go shopping," said 32-year-old businesswoman Jazmin Figueroa as she crossed the border on Wednesday.

US judge Bolton, who is hearing seven lawsuits challenging the law, wrote in her ruling Wednesday that the Obama administration was likely to succeed in its argument that responsibility for immigration policy lies with the federal government.

But Brewer vowed to appeal Bolton's blocking of parts of the law which would have given police the power to check the immigration status of suspected criminals, required everyone to carry proof of their residency status and made it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work.

Mexico cautiously welcomed Bolton's move.

"It's a first step in the right direction," said Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.

The Mexican Congress welcomed the decision and said it would carefully follow the process to definitively suspend the law.

The law "promotes intolerance and sows resentment between people and neighboring countries that are friends and business partners," said a joint statement signed by lawmakers from all parties.

Around a hundred protesters gathered outside the US embassy in Mexico City ahead of larger demonstrations expected in Arizona when the law comes into force Thursday.

Mexican authorities have multiplied resources in consulates across the US state to help Mexicans affected by the law.

The National Human Rights Commission said it would send inspectors to crossings along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border where deportations might take place.

It deplored the fact that the US states of Florida, Michigan, Alabama, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Texas also supported the Arizona law.

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