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New Mexico newspaper apologises for cartoon linking 'Dreamers' to criminality

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - A New Mexico newspaper apologised on Thursday for publishing a cartoon portraying illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children as street criminals that drew widespread condemnation as racist.

Illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by their parents are known as "Dreamers" after the name of legislation that would have granted them the right to permanent residency. Congressional Republicans and Democrats fought over the legislation and the status of the "Dreamers" has been at the centre of the U.S. immigration debate and negotiations over the U.S. budget that are ongoing.

The cartoon appeared on Wednesday in the Albuquerque Journal and showed two armed men holding up a couple. One of the men is wearing a jacket that says MS-13, the name of a criminal street gang that has ties to the Central American country of El Salvador. Republican President Donald Trump has blamed illegal immigration for the spread of MS-13 in the U.S.

In the cartoon, the woman utters a profanity and the man responds, "Now, Honey ... I believe they prefer to be called 'Dreamers' ... or future Democrats."

Another armed man in the cartoon holds a sword, with a mask on his face and sticks of dynamite around his chest, in an apparent depiction of a suicide bomber.

"In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions," Karen Moses, executive editor of the Albuquerque Journal, said in a statement. "This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologises."

All of the U.S. senators and members of Congress from New Mexico condemned the cartoon in a joint statement, saying it "plays to the most false and negative stereotype of 'Dreamers,' which can only serve to enrage extremists."

A photographer at the Albuquerque Journal who is originally from El Salvador also criticized the cartoon on Twitter.

Sean Delonas, the artist who drew the cartoon, could not be reached for comment.

He told the New York Times that he believed immigrants should come legally to the United States, the Times reported.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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