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Immigration Law Ignites Fury In Mexico

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Immigration Law Ignites Fury In Mexico

Latin America

Immigration Law Ignites Fury In Mexico

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Mexico's government has strongly condemned the new immigration law in Arizona. Some of officials say its racist, others have denounced it as hateful, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon says he'll mobilize an army of lawyers to fight it.

NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from Mexico City.

JASON BEAUBIEN: There's a feeling among Mexicans that their neighbor to the north has just declared that any Mexican visiting or in Arizona is now a criminal suspect and Mexican politicians are furious about it.

Senator CARLOS NAVARRETE RUIZ (President, Mexican Senate): (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: The president of the Mexican Senate, Carlos Navarrete Ruiz, called the new Arizona law unacceptable to Mexico. He says Mexico must send a strong message to Washington that harassment of its citizens in Arizona will not be tolerated.

The law, which both supporters and opponents are calling the toughest in the nation, would require police to question suspected illegal immigrants and require people to carry proof of their immigration status.

President Felipe Calderon says the measure would open the door to intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse of Mexican citizens. Calderon, who is making an official state visit to Washington next month, called the law Arizona law unjust and vowed to fight it.

President FELIPE CALDERON (Mexico): (Foreign language spoken)

(Soundbite of applause)

BEAUBIEN: My government will not stand by, President Calderon said, while political acts like this violate the human rights of Mexican citizens.

Mexico is Arizona's largest trading partner. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who work illegally at low-wage jobs in the state, hundreds of thousands of others go to Arizona each year to shop, study or conduct business.

Yesterday, the Mexican secretary of foreign relations issued a travel warning for Arizona. The notice tells Mexicans to take extreme precautions if traveling to the border state. It warns Mexican citizens that under the new law they could be subject to harassment and questioning, quote, "without cause at any moment." And there have been numerous calls in Mexico for a boycott of the entire state.

Mr. C�SAR NAVA (President, National Action Party): (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: The head of President Calderon's political party, PAN, the National Action Party, called on all Mexicans to not visit Arizona in protest of the new law. And Calderon says he will certainly bring up his government's displeasure over the measure when he meets with President Obama at the White House next month.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Mexico City.

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