May 18, 2006

Mexico protests military and new walls on border

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico will complain to the U.S.
government about plans to build security fences and deploy
National Guard troops along the border to curb illegal
immigration, the foreign minister said on Thursday.

Mexico has pushed for sweeping immigration reforms to help
millions of Mexicans work legally in the United States but it
fears Washington is more interested in keeping them out.

Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said Mexico would send
a note protesting the plans to build new walls and send the
National Guard to the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border that
hundreds of thousands of Mexicans sneak across every year in
search of jobs.

"There are 12 million Mexicans on the other side, 12
million people who live every day in anguish about the need for
a reform to let them live peacefully," Derbez said.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would see
370 miles of new fences built at strategic points along the

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have also
passed a bill to vastly extend existing border fences, making
it likely new barriers of some kind will be part a final
compromise deal with the Senate.

President George W. Bush was traveling to the border town
of Yuma, Arizona, on Thursday to press his case for tougher
border controls combined with reforms that would give millions
of immigrants a chance to become U.S. citizens.

He said earlier this week said he would deploy up to 6,000
National Guard troops along the Mexico border.

Supporters of tougher U.S. immigration measures argue
illegal immigrants are criminals and take jobs from legal

But many business groups say the United States needs
foreign workers who are willing to work in jobs that Americans
do not want, and Hispanic groups are flexing their political
muscle to demand legalization.

Some U.S. lawmakers expect stronger border walls to help
stem the flow of drugs from Mexico, which increasingly violent
smuggling gangs use as the main entry point into the United

Emigration to the United States is a useful social safety
valve for Mexico, allowing the poor to escape in search of a
better life. They sent around $20 billion in cash transfers to
their families at home last year, the country's second biggest
source of foreign currency after oil exports.