Mexico calls Bush immigration proposals "significant"
MEXICO CITY – Mexico described as “significant” the immigration-reform positions laid out by the administration of President George W. Bush on Tuesday, but said any U.S. plan would have to “recognize the contributions of migrants” and take into consideration those already living north of the border.Bush on Tuesday argued for his temporary worker plan for foreigners, hoping to win over skeptical conservatives with get-tough promises about illegal immigration.”The Mexican government considers it significant that the administration of President Bush has a solid and unified position on immigration reform that allows safe, legal and orderly migration, and takes into account those migrants who are already residing in the United States,” the Foreign Relations Department said in a press statement.”Mexico understands the link between regional security and the immigration issue,” according to the statement, “but stresses that both issues should be viewed as shared responsibilities.”The government said it would maintain contact with U.S. lawmakers and officials “to make suggestions to help the immigration situation and standards of living of our countrymen.”Bush administration officials appeared on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to promote the guest worker plan, saying action is needed beyond improving border patrols to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.”We’re going to need more than just brute enforcement,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’re going to need a temporary worker program as well.”Bush last year introduced a plan that would allow undocumented workers to get three-year work visas. They could extend that for another three years, but would then have to return to their home countries for a year to apply for a new work permit.Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said workers accepted into the program would be issued biometric, tamper-resistant cards that would allow them to cross U.S. borders during their stay.”Those who come forward will not be offered an automatic pass to citizenship and should be expected to pay a substantial fine or penalty to participate in the temporary program,” she said.Chertoff said that the nearly 900,000 Mexicans who are caught entering United States every year are returned immediately to Mexico, “but other parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers.”Chertoff said that in the just-concluded budget year 120,000 of the 160,000 non-Mexican nationals apprehended by the Border Patrol were released, often on their own recognizance, because there is no place to hold them. “That is unacceptable and we are going to change that immediately.”Vail, Colorado