- HOUSTON, Texas (EFE) - Declaring
U.S. immigration policy a failure, Mexico's foreign secretary said "something
is fundamentally wrong" with a system that produces the death in the
desert each year of hundreds of would-be immigrants seeking "jobs
available in abundance."
- With respect to ongoing immigration negotiations, the
United States and Mexico could "reach a satisfactory agreement sometime
in 2003," Foreign Secretary Jorge CastaÒeda said Wednesday
in Houston at a League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) convention.
- "U.S. immigration policies have failed to stem illegal
immigration from Mexico and, in exchange, have fostered a dangerous and
sometimes lethal black market for human beings," CastaÒeda
- The secretary acknowledged, nevertheless, that the U.S.
"has the right to regulate who enters its territory."
- The fact that hundreds of immigrants lose their lives
attempting to cross the border in search of jobs that are readily available
is evidence that "something is fundamentally wrong," he added.
Moreover, the secretary noted the "lack of legal status makes immigrants
vulnerable to unscrupulous employers" who exploit them.
- "The time has come for us to act and to act decisively
to end this intolerable situation," CastaÒeda said.
- During his address, CastaÒeda also summed up Mexico's
efforts to combat drug smugglers by extraditing drug traffickers, exchanging
information and improving border security, among other issues that top
the U.S. wish list.
- "Mexico certainly has done its part. Now we are
confident that the U.S. will hold to its commitment to work constructively
with Mexico on issues that are important to us, the most important of which
is immigration," CastaÒeda said.
- Mexico is still seeking a U.S. solution to issues that
topped the agenda last year, including legalizing the status of Mexicans
residing here, increasing the number of resident visas for Mexican citizens
and creating a guest-worker program.
- Other priorities, CastaÒeda said, include boosting
border security and promoting economic development programs, especially
in Mexican regions with the highest percentage of immigration.
- "Instead of criminalizing this flow of workers,
the two countries have to work on regulating it," which would benefit
both countries, he said.
- The election calendar in the U.S. and events of Sept.
11 have created a climate that is not "favorable" for immigration
talks, CastaÒeda noted. The official urged LULAC convention goers
to lobby U.S. legislators to push for immigration accords.