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Mexico braces for effects of Arizona immigration law

By Chris Hawley, USA TODAY

MEXICO CITY — The other side of the border is also preparing for the implementation of Arizona’s new immigration law, which could lead to a surge of deportees back to Mexico.

Migrant shelters along the border in Mexico say they’re bracing for new arrivals after the law goes into effect Thursday.

Mexico’s government has added more workers to its consulate in Phoenix to assist detained Mexicans. Migrants who have been deported say they’re watching to see how the law is enforced before deciding whether to try again to cross the border illegally into Arizona.
“On the plane, everybody was talking about the law,” said Ernesto González, a deportee who arrived here last week on a U.S. government flight from Tucson. “Everybody knows it’s coming.”
Arizona’s law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It requires police to check a person’s immigration status when the person has been involved in another offense and the officer has reasonable cause to suspect the person is in the country illegally. The check can be made only during the course of a lawful police action, such as a traffic stop or investigation of a crime.
The law also allows Arizona citizens to sue police departments if they feel the new law is not being enforced — a provision related to “sanctuary cities,” where local government officials refuse to enforce anti-illegal-immigration laws.
The Obama administration and several rights groups have sued to stop the law from taking effect. The Mexican government has filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting the lawsuits.
In Nogales, Sonora, the state shelter for migrant children added 50 beds to the 100 it already had, 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 declined to comment on preparations for the law. But El Universal newspaper reported that the consulate in Phoenix increased its consular-protection staff from eight to 11 and is distributing pamphlets to inform Mexicans about the law.
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 the Republicangovernor rampages through Mexico City with a stun gun, zapping people.
The country’s newspapers have been running articles daily about the legal battle over the law.
Academics in Mexico say they 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 after some rights groups, such as Amnesty International, claimed it was mistreating illegal immigrants in its country.
This month, Mexico increased the punishment for migrant smugglers from a maximum of 12 years in prison to 16 years.
And the Mexican Interior Ministry said it will step up efforts to protect migrants here in response to a report by the United Nations that accused Mexico police of robbing migrants and extorting bribes from them.
However, Mexico retains Article 67, a law that requires local Mexican authorities to check the immigration papers of all foreigners who come to them for help.
Many Mexicans coming off the deportation flight here last week said the risk of being punished as criminals under the Arizona law was making them think twice about trying to get back into the state.
“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, though, said nothing would stop them. “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.”
Link to original article:  USA Today