December 1, 2005

Mexico says to fight U.S. plan for border wall

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico will fight proposals to
fortify part of the U.S.-Mexico border with a high-tech wall,
Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said on Thursday.

Concerned about the huge numbers of illegal immigrants
streaming across the border, and worried it could be an entry
point for terrorists, many members of the U.S. Congress are
backing an idea to erect a Berlin Wall-style division along the

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who chairs the
House Armed Services Committee, has proposed building two
parallel steel and wire fences with a lighted strip in between
running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific coast.

"We will use all means necessary, and I am referring to
things like international tribunals (and other) international
action, to make it clear that this is not an act that would
resolve the migration issue," Derbez said.

President George W. Bush pledged this week 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.

Opponents say a fence would not be 100 percent effective.

"I guarantee the U.S. government that (a wall) will not
stop migrants. What will happen is they will climb over it or
burrow underneath," Derbez said. "The solution is an agreement
to permit legal migration, secure and ordered."

President Vicente Fox said this week he would keep fighting
for a migration reform that could benefit millions of Mexican
fruit pickers, waiters and janitors in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said a wall
running the length of the border would cost too much and did
not make sense for desert areas.

He told a briefing in Washington the plan was for a
"smart," "21st century" barrier combining high-tech fencing in
urban areas and surveillance technology in desert areas.

(Additional reporting by Deborah Charles in Washington)