Guatemala Slashes U.S. Immigration Bill

People’s Daily Online (Beijing), Dec. 30, 2005

Guatemala condemned a U.S. immigration bill as “inhuman” on Thursday, saying Washington treats Latin America as a region of criminals, reports reaching here said.

The bill was “absolutely intolerable and inhuman” as the U.S. industry, trade and families have benefited from Latin American immigration, legal or illegal, Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein told the press in the capital Guatemala City.

“It seems a true offense to all Latin America that a government who says it is a friend and partner of the region only wants our money and products,” said Stein.

The United States treats Latin America “as though we were a sub-hemisphere of criminals,” he added.

The vice president said the bill forced Latin America to reconsider its relations with the United States.

Guatemala lodged a protest to the United States last week against the anti-immigration bill and agreed to fight it together with Mexico.

Under the bill, a fencing of 1,200 km will be built along the 3,200-km border between the United States and Mexico. Military technologies will also be used to prevent undocumented immigration.

Illegal immigrants and those who help them, including their family members, will be taken as criminals, the bill said.

Stein said the immigration issue will never be solved with the construction of a fence.

As for the negotiations with Mexico on joint measures against the bill, Stein said the two countries would seek a way to ensure the immigrants’ rights.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Jorge Briz and his Mexican counterpart, Ernesto Derbez, have agreed to meet in Mexico City on Jan. 9 to work out the joint measures against the bill which has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is under consideration in the Senate.

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