Chris Coleman protests the AZ immigration law

12:07 AM, Apr 29, 2010   |    comments
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  • St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota lawmakers are weighing in on a controversial new immigration law passed by Arizona last week.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman calls the law "draconian."  He's ordered city departments not to travel to conferences in Arizona in protest of the law.

"We want to send a clear signal: whether it's a dollar or a thousand dollars, it's not going to be spent in Arizona until they correct their policies at this point," Coleman said on Wednesday.

Coleman's criticism of the law echoes that of civil rights advocates throughout the country.  They argue the law -- which requires police to question people about their immigration status -- will lead to racial profiling.

But not everyone in Minnesota is opposed to the Arizona example.

In a debate aired on Minnesota Public Radio News Wednesday morning, two Republican candidates for governor stated their support for the legislation.

"I think what Arizona did was a wonderful first step," said Rep. Tom Emmer.  He added: "I'm very disappointed with the federal government for taking issue with the state of Arizona for doing what most of us expect should be done -- enforce the laws."

"There's Oklahoma, there's Arizona.  There's a number of states that we're going to model their legislation and try to pattern it," said Rep. Marty Seifert.

Seifert said he has his own plan for dealing with immigration in the state, one that calls for several changes, including: focusing on English as the common language in Minnesota; allowing officers to inquire about immigration status; and ensuring that all "convicted criminal illegal immigrants are deported upon completion of their criminal sentences."

Meantime, immigration experts say the debate has just begun throughout the country.

"I just think that this pushes the button and says 'it's time, immigration should be the next most important agenda for the president,'" said Herbert Igbanugo, an immigration attorney.


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