The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta’s Mexican Consulate is expressing concerns over the “potentially grave effects” pending legislation targeting illegal immigration could have on Mexican nationals here.
Miguel Martinez/Mundo Hispanico In recent years, several thousand people have marched through downtown Atlanta in support of immigration reform.
In a statement released Friday, the consulate singled out House Bill 87, which passed Georgia’s House on Thursday. Among other things, HB 87 would authorize state and local police to verify the immigration status of certain suspects. It also would punish certain people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants here.
“As many local human rights organizations have already expressed, the consulate shares the view that measures focused on criminalizing migrants open possibilities for undue law enforcement practices and racial profiling,” the consulate said in its statement.
“Mexico also expresses its concern over the possible negative effects that this kind of bill could have on the friendship, trade, culture and tourism links that have traditionally united our country with Georgia. Mexico is the state’s third largest international market.”
Last month, the Mexican ambassador to the United States criticized HB 87 in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying the legislation “could lead down a slippery slope of racial profiling.”
The bill’s sponsor — Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — and other supporters of his legislation have vehemently denied such charges.
“I find it incredibly arrogant and audacious that the Mexican government would inject itself into the Georgia Legislature‘s debate on this pressing state issue,” Ramsey said in a statement he issued in response Friday evening. “Their time would be better spent identifying ways to reform the extraordinary levels of corruption in Mexican government and society and improve their nation’s deplorable economy.
“The root cause of illegal immigration from Mexico is the failure of the Mexican government to provide its people economic opportunity or even basic public safety such that millions of its citizens are so desperate that they are willing to break the law to enter the United States in search of a better life.
“I also find it deeply hypocritical that the Mexican government, which has such repressive immigration policies of its own, would criticize our effort to enforce America’s comparatively liberal immigration laws, which are the most welcoming to immigrants in the world.”