Immigration issues in Mexico, Ariz., will soon enter Colorado politics

What can you say about a country that makes it a crime, with up to two years in prison, for simply being in the country illegally? Or punishes a person who has been deported as an illegal and is apprehended re-entering with up to 10 years in prison? Or a country that admits immigrants according to their potential to “contribute to the national progress” and require they have an income to support themselves?

What you should say is, welcome to Mexico.

Despite Mexico’s relentless campaign for easing restrictions on immigration into the United States and advocating against stepped-up United States immigration efforts, Mexico’s position on immigration on its southern border is anything but relaxed.

According to the San Bernadino Sun, less than 1 percent of Mexico’s population is foreign-born, as opposed to the estimated 12 percent of the U.S. population, and illegal immigrants that are apprehended in Mexico are routinely deported.

In 2006, the Sun reported that of 240,000 illegal immigrants contacted in 2005, 235,000 were deported. And the ones that were merely deported were probably luckier than many who fell into reported victimization by government corruption and criminal acts routinely committed against them along Mexico’s southern border.

So along comes the state of Arizona, whose border area has seen a jump in criminal activity as a result of the slow degradation of Mexico’s northern provinces into narco-criminal states, a state that has been largely abandoned by the federal government. The Arizona Legislature passes a law that simply requires Arizona law enforcement officers to make a determination whether or not a person is a citizen if they have reasonable suspicion that might not be the case.

The law even has a specific provision prohibiting law enforcement from making a contact based solely on race or ethnicity. The result of this effort has been both expected and disappointing. We’ve seen images of youths in Arizona with handkerchiefs over their face, like someone sticking up a stagecoach, waving Mexican flags while protesters throw bottles at police and someone takes the opportunity to smear swastikas on a government building with refried beans.

Politicians of course, love to get in on the act, and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva called for a boycott of his own state, making some wonder whether or not he understood the identity of his constituents. Not to be left out, the city of San Francisco also called for a boycott of Arizona, although the record seems fairly clear that California doesn’t have money to spend in California, much less Arizona.

A good question is how will all this increased attention on illegal immigration affect the Colorado governor’s race?

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has fought allegations for years that Denver is a “sanctuary city.” This has been tough, given the existence of Mayor Wellington Webb’s Executive Order 116 that declared Denver’s opposition to the federal government’s distinction between illegal and legal immigrants and a controversial provision in the Denver police manual that says, “generally officers will not detain, arrest or take enforcement action against a person solely because he/she is suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.”

In 2005 Mayor Hickenlooper remarked on Peter Boyle’s radio show that since medical care must be provided to everyone, regardless of immigration status, “the spirit of that law suggests that we’re not supposed to be running around having our police officers try to find out who’s legal and not legal.”

That same year, Denver police Detective Don Young was murdered and his partner wounded by an illegal alien, employed at a restaurant held in blind trust by one of the mayor’s companies. The perpetrator had been contacted by police in the past but his immigration status had not been determined.

It’s not much of a prediction that immigration policy is going to be entering Colorado politics very soon.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong, which can be reached through the blogs entry at GJSentinel.com.


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