December 14, 2005

US-Mexico border wall would be ‘disgraceful': Fox

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Vicente Fox
denounced as "disgraceful and shameful" on Wednesday a proposal
to build a high-tech wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to stop
illegal immigrants.

Concerned about the huge numbers of illegal immigrants
streaming across the border and worried it could be an entry
point for terrorists, a U.S. lawmaker has proposed building two
parallel steel and wire fences running from the Gulf of Mexico
to the Pacific Coast. But Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff has said a wall running the length of a border would
cost too much.

Mexico has expressed indignation at the idea.

Fox, speaking in Tamaulipas state across the border from
Texas, said such extreme security measures would violate
immigrants' rights.

"The disgraceful and shameful construction of walls, the
increasing enforcement of security systems and increasing
violation of human rights and labor rights will not protect the
economy of the United States," he said.

He again called for the easing of U.S. immigration laws to
benefit millions of undocumented Mexican fruit pickers, waiters
and janitors working north of the border, a complex bilateral
issue that has at times strained relations with Washington.

"I hope that next year we finally get an immigration
agreement," Fox told immigrants crossing the border back to
Mexico to spend the holidays with their families.

President George W. Bush pledged recently to step up the
use of unmanned flying drones, fences and technology to tighten
border security. A 14-mile (23-km) fence south of San Diego has
already slashed illegal crossings there, officials say.

Each year, more than 1 million undocumented migrants try to
slip across the rivers and deserts on the 2,000-mile (3,200-km)
U.S.-Mexico border in search of work in the United States.

Many die en route in the searing desert heat.