While Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday praised California for its relatively liberal treatment of immigrants from Mexico, about 150 protesters called from across the street for the release of a U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico on a gun matter.
Tim Donnelly, the Republican assemblyman leading the protest, said that if “the president of Mexico wants to come here and ask for some concessions on immigration,” he should “show that courtesy that we afford to allies” and intervene on behalf of the Marine.
Donnelly, a tea party favorite and failed gubernatorial candidate, organized the protest on a sidewalk across the street from the Stanford Mansion, where Brown was hosting Peña Nieto for lunch.
Among protesters with bullhorns, American flags and signs criticizing Brown and President Barack Obama, Donnelly, of Twin Peaks, called for the release of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who was jailed after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with guns in his pick-up truck earlier this year.
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Brown brushed off the controversy in an interview on KNX 1070 radio in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning
“There’s lots of issues in both countries because of our people going there, their coming here, so I don’t think that’s something that I’m going to comment on, at least on this radio show,” he said.
Brown added, “They’ve got a lot of their guys sittnig in our jails, too.”
In remarks at the luncheon, Brown praised the history between California and Mexico and said “the past is only prologue to an even brighter future in the days and years ahead.”
Peña Nieto, in translated remarks, praised the “warm environment” California affords immigrants.
Mexico is California’s largest trading partner, and millions of people of Mexican origin live here. Latinos are also an increasingly significant force in electoral politics, and Brown – like many Democrats – performs well with Latino voters.