The March 29 headline, “Immigration turns back 38 convicted foreign pedophiles” and the statements by Mexican immigration officials were misleading, particularly the use of the word “pedophiles.”
The Mexican officials quoted didn’t say if people convicted of crimes other than sex crimes are turned away, but my information is that Mexico’s denials of entry are based on “Megan’s List” — the U.S. database that contains the names of one out of every 135 California men and one of every 63 Alaskan men, to mention two examples. These are people convicted of a range of sexual crimes.
Very few of this huge number of people are “pedophiles.” They may be teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. They may have committed questionable “crimes” such as urinating in public. They may have committed a crime 40 years ago that has long since been addressed.
Many listed people committed crimes that had nothing to do with children, and, among those who did, the vast majority convicted for what is loosely called “child molesting” do not meet the definition of pedophile in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This bible of mental health diagnosis defines pedophilia as recurrent and longstanding fantasies involving prepubescent children, a definition which does not fit most people on Megan’s List.
While it is understandable that Mexico wants to keep out dangerous criminals, they might restrict their efforts to that two percent of listed people who are classified as “high risk” (and probably to people still on parole or probation). But using the entire Megan’s List guarantees that Mexico will be excluding people who are not dangerous.
The existence of this over-broad list is based on the myth that convicted sex offenders have extremely high recidivism rates. But the truth, according to the U.S. Justice Department itself, is that “Recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population.” The California Department of Corrections reported in 2012 that only one percent of people on Megan’s List go on to commit a new sex crime — compared to about 50 percent for people convicted of drug and property crimes.
Buying into myths and tarring everyone on Megan’s List as a “pedophile” guarantees that injustices against listed people will continue. One injustice based on Megan’s List is barring harmless people from traveling. Is it fair for Mexico to ban individuals who pose no threat based on an unfounded bias? See my Web page explaining the myths behind bad laws such as “Megan’s Law”: www.meganslawbook.com.
Alex Landon, Attorney,
San Diego, California
For those readers who do not know, the telegraph office in Chapala is more secure than ATMs. The debit card is swiped through the reader. You must sign for your money. I stopped using ATMs after my debit card was swallowed at the Walmart near the bus station in Guadalajara with no way to get it back.
However, you must have a debit card from a Mexican bank. The card cannot be from an “exchange” house. The fees are lower than at most ATMs. I have been using the telegraph office for a couple of years now without any problems.
San Antonio Tlayacapan
I would like to tell anyone who has a police or legal matter just how great is the new twice-monthly reporting process at the Lake Chapala Society.
This service has been set up specifically for North Americans to report any crimes committed against them or to file a denuncia. After living here for over 15 years, I have heard time and time again how hard it is to go to Chapala and file a complaint.
I had a meeting on Tuesday, April 1, with a representative from the Attorney General’s Office and another from the State Human Rights Commission. Sandra Loridans acted as a go-between. Both representatives spoke good English and were sincerely concerned.
Since this meeting, we have had discussions with the Chapala mayor and police chief and have been given their private cellphone numbers.
If you have a legal problem, go to the LCS and report it. So many things have gone unreported because of the difficulty of going to Chapala. We no longer have this problem.
Also, a big “thanks” to Sandra Loridans for her assistance.
John McWilliams, Ajijic