Mexico angered by lack of immigration reform, decision to increase security at border
Mexico lobbied for six years for a comprehensive immigration reform that would allow millions to cross into the United States legally. Instead, they’re getting a fence.
Mexicans – from leading politicians to migrants preparing to cross illegally – consider the U.S. plan to fence off much of the border shameful, offensive and ill-conceived.
President Bush on Wednesday signed a bill that would allot $1.2 billion for hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border and for more vehicle barriers, lighting and infrared cameras.
But migrants resting
at a Tijuana shelter after being deported from the United States said
more walls wouldn’t deter them. Alfonso Martinez, a 32-year-old from
southern Mexico, had been working as a farmhand for six months in
Vista, Calif., when he was arrested and deported last week.
“Wall or no wall, I will try at least three times,” said Martinez, who
said he would try to cross by himself through Tecate, a mountainous
town about 35 miles east of Tijuana. “I have three girls that I have to
support, and in Mexico there is no work.”
Mexican immigrants in the United States and the Mexican government had
lobbied lawmakers for more ways to cross the border and work legally.
While Bush had proposed a temporary worker program, it didn’t garner
enough support in Congress for passage. The idea has been dropped by
Washington, at least until after the November congressional elections.
Congress focused on security over immigration, arguing that the porous
border could be used by terrorists who want to sneak into the U.S.
undetected. There is no evidence that has happened, however.
The Mexican government this week sent a diplomatic note to Washington
criticizing the plan for 700 miles of new fencing along the border.
Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez called it an “offense” and said
his office was considering taking the issue to the United Nations.