Mexican president slams U.S. migration policy at 22-nation summit
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Mexico’s president criticized Washington’s plans to build a fence along the nations’ shared border during a summit on migration Saturday.A Cuban official, meanwhile, blasted the U.S. for what he said was a two-faced policy of excluding poor migrants while accepting the skilled labor it needs, thus draining the developing world of that talent.Foreign ministers at the summit of 22 nations in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo issued a declaration sharply criticizing the fence plan, saying such barriers encourage “discrimination and xenophobia” and don’t deter undocumented workers.”A wall isn’t a solution,” Mexican leader Vicente Fox said at the 16th annual summit attended by 19 Latin American nations along with Spain, Portugal and Andorra.Fox tied the fence issue to Tuesday’s midterm elections for many U.S. lawmakers loyal to President Bush, saying it was “clearly electoral action that has nothing to do with the analysis and solution of the issue.”Some 11 million Mexicans are estimated to be in the U.S., half of them illegally.Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage said barriers are being erected to keep unwanted migrants out of the developed world, but added that “there are no forced repatriations” of doctors, technical experts and teachers who are lured away for higher wages abroad.”On the contrary, there are plans and programs to draw them in,” said Lage, who noted the European Union and the U.S. had the “most restrictive” migratory policies in the world.Leaders will close the summit on Sunday by signing the “Commitment of Montevideo.”The document is a recently negotiated statement endorsing concerted action to reduce migration flows, fight labor-market exploitation and defend the rights of migrants, both legal and illegal.As many as 25 million Latin American migrants were working or living in countries other than their homeland in 2005, up from 21 million in 2000, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.Recognizing that poverty drives millions of Latin Americans to emigrate, leaders from the region called for an end to their exploitation abroad and for improved opportunities at home.But widespread migration problems worldwide have been overshadowed here by the border fence controversy.
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