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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews Around the Republic of Mexico 

Mexico Abuzz About SB 1070, Braces for Wave of Deportees
email this pageprint this pageemail usChris Hawley -
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July 26, 2010

Across Mexico, radio talk shows, blogs and the news media have turned Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer into a household name.
Mexico City - From migrants to TV comedians, academics to charity workers, Mexico is abuzz over Arizona's new immigration law as the country prepares for a possible influx of deportees.

Migrant shelters along the border say they're bracing for new arrivals after the law goes into effect on Thursday. The Mexican Consulate in Phoenix has added more workers to assist detained nationals. And migrants who have already been deported said they're watching carefully to see how the law is enforced before deciding whether to cross the border into Arizona again.

"On the plane, everybody was talking about the law," said Ernesto González, a deportee who arrived in Mexico City on Wednesday night on a U.S. government flight from Tucson. "Everybody knows it's coming."

Arizona's SB 1070 makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It allows local police, during a lawful stop, to check a person's immigration status if they have reasonable cause to suspect he or she is in the country illegally. Citizens also can sue their police departments if they feel the new law is not being enforced.

The U.S. government and several civil-rights groups are challenging the law in court. The Mexican government has filed a "friend of the court" brief supporting them.

In Nogales, Sonora, the state shelter for migrant children has added 50 beds to the 100 it already has to be ready for a possible wave of deportees, Director Maria Isabel Arvizu said. The San Juan Bosco shelter in Nogales also is expecting more migrants, Director Francisco Loureiro said.

"All of us are getting ready for people to come back," Arvizu said.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry said Friday that it would not comment on preparations for the law while the court challenges are ongoing. But El Universal newspaper reported that the consulate in Phoenix has increased its consular-protection staff from eight to 11 and has begun distributing pamphlets informing immigrants about the law.

Mexico's ambassador to the United States and the assistant foreign minister for U.S. affairs met with consular officials in Phoenix earlier this month to plan for the new law, the newspaper said.

Across Mexico, radio talk shows, blogs and the news media have turned Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer into a household name.

On Friday, a morning show on Televisa aired a comedy skit in which an actor dressed as Brewer rampages through Mexico City with a stun gun, zapping people. The country's newspapers have been printing daily articles about the court battles surrounding SB 1070.

Academics are paying attention to the Arizona law and similar proposals in other U.S. states, said Victor Manuel Sánchez, a researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, a graduate school in Mexico City.

"It's going to have an effect on the ways people migrate," Sánchez said.

The Mexican government has also made changes to its own immigration laws amid criticism in the wake of SB 1070's passage. Amnesty International and Mexico's National Human Rights Commission accused Mexico of not doing enough to stop abuses of Central Americans there.

On July 2, the government expanded a temporary-visa program to include agricultural, construction and service workers.

It also increased the punishment for migrant smugglers, known as coyotes or polleros, from a maximum 12 years in prison to 16, and it permitted even harsher punishments if migrants are mistreated.

This week, the Mexican Interior Ministry promised to redouble efforts to protect migrants in response to a report by the United Nations that accused police of robbing and extorting migrants, among other abuses.

But the government has not removed a controversial clause, known as Article 67, that requires Mexican authorities to check the immigration papers of all foreigners who come to them for help.

Human-rights groups have likened that clause to Arizona's SB 1070 and say it has encouraged crime by making migrants afraid to talk to police.

A bill removing the requirement has been stuck in the Mexican Senate for months. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it soon after they return from vacation on Sept. 1, said Rogelio Alemán, a Senate spokesman.

As they disembarked from a deportation flight at the Mexico City airport, some migrants said the risk of being punished as criminals under the Arizona law was making them think twice about trying to enter Arizona again.

"I think people are going to think harder about it and decide not to risk it because it's scary to think that you'll be tried as a criminal and they'll want to put you in jail," said Francisco Juárez, who jumped a border fence into Arizona on Tuesday and was caught minutes later by the Border Patrol.

Others, however, said nothing would stop them from crossing.

"My wife is up there. My whole life is up there," said Efrén de la Paz, 34. "Of course I'm going to try again."

Sergio Solache contributed to this article. Reach the reporter at chris.hawley(at)

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