The Tar Pit

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Colorado's online illegal alien guide gets deleted

Get the feathers:

Colorado unplugs online guide for illegal immigrants

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has removed an online pamphlet from the state Web site that offered advice in Spanish to illegal immigrants on living and working in Colorado.

Titled "Enterese!" which means "Inform Yourself," the 50-page pamphlet was posted on the Colorado Department of Education Web site until Monday, when the governor's office had it removed after criticism from advocates for tighter borders.

The 2003 guide, which included a welcome message from Mr. Owens and the Mexican consul general, was intended to offer advice to legal immigrants, said Mr. Owens' spokesman, Sean Duffy.

But the guide wound up resembling a "how-to" manual for illegal aliens, providing them with tips on how to obtain medical care, open a bank account, earn university scholarships, and deal with police and other authorities.

"The way it was described to us was that it would be a tool for recent arrivals — I'm assuming legal arrivals," Mr. Duffy said.


Examples of advice offered by the pamphlet, as translated into English, include:

•"Private organizations such as clinics or schools by policy do not ask about the immigration status of persons who attend. They do not report them to immigration authorities, either."

• "The job of the police is not to report you to Immigration. Always carry the name and phone number of an attorney who will take your calls. If you do not have [immigration] papers, you also have the right to remain silent or call a lawyer."

• "Many businesses employ illegal aliens without papers, or without verifying that papers are legitimate since they do not have the responsibility to investigate the legal status of employees or contractors. ... All workers, regardless of their legal status, have the same rights — the right to work — regardless of your nationality or legal status ..."

• "Regardless of your economic or immigration status, you have the right to receive medical attention if you go to the [emergency room]."

• "You can receive medical services at the community clinic closest to you. Doctors do not deport."

The pamphlet also mentions university scholarships for "Hispanics, legal or illegal aliens," and that bank accounts can be opened using a Matricula Consular card, which is frequently used by undocumented workers who cannot obtain other forms of identification.

The guide was copyrighted by two Colorado organizations, Salud Family Health Centers and Focus Points Family Resources Center. Neither organization could be reached for comment. The credits page also lists the Mexican consulate-general of Denver.

The guide, which was "made possible" by the First Data Western Union Foundation, also offers advice on how to send money back to Mexico by electronic transfer by using companies "such as Western Union." A sample budget for "Jose and Ana Maria" budgets $200 per month to "family in Mexico."