Mexican Consul: NWA Community Should Be More Open to Immigration Talks

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Mexican Consul Andres Chao says communities in northwest Arkansas that send police officers to receive immigration enforcement training are "closing the door" to reaching the state's growing Hispanic population.

Chao singled out Rogers Mayor Steve Womack for ignoring his request to discuss the practice.  Rogers, Springdale and the Benton and Washington County sheriff's offices sent officers to Boston this month to learn how to screen inmates' immigration status and report illegal immigrants for possible deportation.

Woman said he wouldn't mind talking to Chao for "15 minutes or half an hour" but the mayor said Chao shouldn't expect the city to relax its approach to the illegal immigration problem.

Rogers began the push to train its police force after an undercover officer was shot while trying to serve a warrant at the home of an illegal immigrant in October.  The four agencies have discussed forming a regional task force to handle immigration checks in northwest Arkansas, home to much of the state's rapidly growing Hispanic community.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)