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Activists: Mexico's immigration laws tough

May 26, 2010 at 12:49 PM

MEXICO CITY, May 26 (UPI) -- Mexico is blasting Arizona's get-tough immigration law even as it treats illegal immigrants shamefully under a similar law, activists in Mexico say.

In the United States, "they'll deport you," Hector Vazquez, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, told USA Today at a migrant camp in Tultitlan, Mexico. "In Mexico they'll probably let you go, but they'll beat you up and steal everything you've got first."

Mexican authorities sharply criticized Arizona's new law that requires local police to check the status of persons suspected of being illegal immigrants, with the country's Foreign Ministry saying the law "violates inalienable human rights." Mexican President Felipe Calderon criticized the Arizona law during a speech he delivered last week on Capitol Hill.

Yet, Mexico's law requires local police to check identification, and Mexican police often engage in racial profiling and harassment, immigration activists told USA Today.

"The Mexican government should probably clean up its own house before looking at someone else's," said Melissa Vertiz, a Fray Matias de Cordova Human Rights Center spokeswoman in Tapachula, Mexico.

A National Human Rights Commission report indicates that, from September 2008 through February 2009, at least 9,758 migrants were kidnapped for ransom in Mexico, with 91 incidents involving direct participation by Mexican police, USA Today reported. The commission said other migrants are routinely stopped and strong-armed for bribes.

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