Some see Mexican president's criticism of Arizona immigration law as hypocritical. The recent outcry stems, in part, from recent reports about Mexico's own policies against illegal immigration.
Several people pointed me to an interview Mexican President Felipe Calderon gave to CNN in which he acknowledges Mexico deports illegal immigrants from Guatemala and other Central American countries.
Calderon’s recent visit to United States received lots of attention this week because of his criticism of Arizona’s new immigration law and his call on U.S. legislators to pass a comprehensive reform bill.
Arizona's new law requires law enforcement to question people they reasonably suspect are here illegally.
Some people are wondering why the Mexican president is pushing the United States to pass more lenient immigration laws than those that exist in his own country.
In his interview with Calderon, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked the Mexican president about a recent Washington Times article that stated Mexico's immigration laws were tougher than those passed in Arizona.
Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals. - The Washington Times.Calderon acknowledged the law, but said it was changed a year ago. He said illegal immigration is no longer a crime in Mexico.
Blitzer then asked Calderon if an immigrant from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Nicaragua can just walk into Mexico without proper immigration paperwork and get a job?
“No, no,” Calderon responded. “If -- if somebody do that without permission, we send back -- we send back them.”
Calderon acknowledged arguments from residents in Arizona and Texas who only want to protect their borders like Mexico has been doing along its southern border.
Calderon called it a “powerful argument.”
“That is one of the reasons why we are trying to change our policy,” he said. “….In the past, Mexican authorities were in a -- in a -- in an unfortunate way in the treatment for immigrants. But now we are changing the policy. We changed already the law. And that is different today. We are trying to write a new story, talking about immigrants, especially coming from Central American countries.”