Criticism flows after article on immigrants
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Marie Munday said she has received a slew of “hateful” e-mails for two sentences published in The Aspen Times last week. As the Latino-Anglo liaison at the sheriff’s office, Munday speaks to the press occasionally on Hispanic issues in the valley. But her comment in the last paragraph of an article sparked an unprecedented backlash from anti-immigration protesters – all of whom live outside of Colorado. “They’re encouraging everybody to write nasty letters,” she said, “which they are doing.”Munday said she has received eight e-mails and three or four angry phone calls since Tuesday’s article was published, many from Riverside and San Bernadino counties in California. She believes most of the responses came from members of national anti-immigration groups. “I really started getting nervous,” she said. The backlash started over her comment that “residing in the United States without permission is actually a civil offense, not a crime,” in reference to unauthorized Hispanic residents. The deputy said she realizes immigrants who enter without inspection commit a federal misdemeanor, namely, a crime. But as quoted, Munday was referring specifically to immigrants who overstay their visas, a civil violation, not people who sneak across the border. However this was not clear in the article. Unanimously the protesters accused her of not knowing the law, she said, “but they’re only looking at half of it.” Many cited Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, which describes how people entering the country without inspection are subject to six months imprisonment upon first offense, and up to two years in prison on subsequent offenses, along with fines. The deputy said the article was unintentionally misleading, and accepted responsibility for the miscommunication. She wrote an editorial clarifying her comments Thursday.Munday said not all the e-mails bashed her; a U.S. immigration officer from Texas sent her a polite e-mail explaining the law. When she explained the situation he graciously acquiesced. But most of the e-mails attacked her personally.One woman blatantly asked Munday: “What the hell are you doing?” She proceeded in the e-mail: “You should be fired immediately for giving aid and comfort to criminals.”Another protester signed an e-mail sent directly to the sheriff, “Victim of the invasion.”The sheriff’s office e-mail directory was posted on one Web site, encouraging viewers to write Munday and her boss, in an attempt to get her fired, she said. But Sheriff Bob Braudis said he resolutely supports Munday and her decisions. “She knows what she’s doing and we’re happy to have her as a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy,” Braudis said. “Without her, my office could not adapt to the changes [taking place in the demographics of] the Roaring Fork Valley.”And others directed her to Web sites such as predatoryaliens.com and americanpatrol.com, some of which Munday found “alarmingly hateful, bordering on white supremacy.”Some of it is very blatantly anti-Latino,” she said. “I wonder if it would make any difference if [undocumented workers] were here legally.”
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has tested positive for the coronavirus. Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis, both have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, the governor said in a statement Saturday night.