While the Supreme Court listened to arguments over the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration bill, Mexico President Felipe Calderon addressed a crowd in Houston where he expressed his concern that immigration laws passed by several states show racial intolerance.
Calderon was in Houston, which is 44 percent Latino according to the U.S. Census, to speak with small business owners and community leaders.
Calderon referenced different state laws targeted at curbing illegal immigration, but singled out Arizona’s law as not only anti-immigrant but also possibly racist.
“I want to be very clear. We are respectful of U.S. sovereignty. But we are firmly against those initiatives that tend to criminalize those that are not committing a crime,” Calderon said in an hour long speech.
Anti-immigrant activists, however, assert that immigrants, who haven’t obtained legal documentation or hired immigration attorneys to obtain citizenship, are committing a crime simply by being in the country.
Calderon told the crowd he wasn’t encouraging Mexican immigration and instead wants to assure that Mexican immigrants in the states can live and work in dignity.
Tough immigration laws passed by individual states used Arizona S.B. 1070 as a model for their own. Critics and immigration lawyers say that one particular contentious provision of the law which gives police the right to detain any person they believe to be undocumented can lead to prejudice and racial profiling.
There are millions of immigrants in the country, many of whom have utilized the assistance of an immigration attorney to help them get visas or citizenship, but many others remain undocumented. Calderon pointed out that the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico is on the decline.