Wednesday, February 2, 2005

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 “Entrese!” 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.

“… The booklet is dedicated to doing a good thing, which is to help recent arrivals assimilate. But clearly, there are some sentences that are inappropriate.”

Terry Graham, a Denver illegal-immigration opponent who stumbled upon the guide last weekend while searching the Internet, compared it to “The Guide for the Mexican Migrant,” the comic book-style pamphlet issued last year by the Mexican government that offers advice on how to cross il legally into the United States.

She criticized Mr. Owens earlier for giving the guide his seal of approval.

“It’s totally inappropriate for the governor of Colorado to endorse a how-to guide for illegal invaders,” said Miss Graham, who posted the guide over the weekend, with English translations, on, an anti-illegal immigration Web site.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, sent a letter to Mr. Owens on Monday asking him to remove the booklet from the Education Department’s Web site and to stop any other agencies from promoting it.

“Judging from the specific advice offered, the booklet is quite obviously aimed at illegal aliens more than legal immigrants,” said Mr. Tancredo, an advocate for tighter borders. “It tells illegal aliens how to take maximum advantage of Colorado’s government-funded social services and how to seek employment at companies that will not try to verify their documents.”

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.”

William Herron, chairman of Defend Colorado Now, praised the governor for removing it promptly from the state site. “That sounds terrific — it sounds like some progress is being made,” he said.

Defend Colorado Now is pushing for legislation that would ban state and county services for illegal aliens. Mr. Herron said he was confident the legislature would introduce such a bill this year, but if it fails or if the governor refuses to sign it, his organization plans to start collecting signatures to put an initiative on the November 2006 ballot.

An estimated 200,000 illegal aliens live in Colorado, a population that grew by more than 300 percent from 1990 to 2000, according to Defend Colorado Now.

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