MEXICO CITY—Mexico’s foreign secretary Monday levelled his country’s sharpest criticism yet at a U.S. proposal for a fence along parts of its southern border, condemning it as “stupid” and “underhanded.”
In a radio interview, Luis Ernesto Derbez said U.S. legislators who approved the bill are turning a blind eye to the contributions millions of migrants from Mexico and elsewhere make to the U.S. economy and culture. “It’s a law that looks underhanded to everybody . . . stupid,” Derbez said.
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 239-182 in favour of an immigration-enforcement bill, which includes a proposal to build more than 1,100 kilometres of border fencing along parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Under the measure, soldiers and police would help stop people sneaking across and employers would have to check the legal status of their workers.
Reacting Sunday to the bill’s approval, Mexican President Vicente Fox said: “This wall is shameful” and called the plan hypocritical for a country made up of immigrants.
Washington, DC—Four of the leading national Hispanic advocacy organizations in the United States—The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)—today released the text of a letter to President George W. Bush expressing their “extreme disappointment” with the White House’s strong support of the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005” (H.R. 4437), a bill sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner which is currently being debated on the House floor.
The letter states that the groups are “shocked and saddened” by the White House statement in strong support of this legislation which is both unduly harsh and punitive yet highly unlikely to resolve any current immigration concerns. The groups also note that the legislation seriously undermines not only the President’s own interest in enacting comprehensive immigration reform but also Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ken Mehlman’s recent efforts to reach out to the Latino community. The groups call for the President to instead embrace and support bipartisan legislation pending before Congress to enact realistic, rational, and effective comprehensive immigration reform.
The text of the letter follows:
December 16, 2005
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The undersigned national Latino organizations write to express our extreme disappointment with the Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) issued yesterday supporting the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005” (H.R. 4437). This bill defies any attempt at serious or effective immigration reform, which you yourself acknowledged is urgently needed. Your SAP is baffling in light of recent statements made by RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, which correctly point out that the House Republican proposal overreaches in ways which are harmful to the country and which will alienate the Latino community. Your support of H.R. 4437 is inconsistent with the very principles for immigration reform that you have put forward.
The impact of H.R. 4437 on the Latino community would be devastating. This bill is excessively harmful to American families, businesses, and communities as well as immigrants. Among its many appalling provisions: it criminalizes 11 million undocumented workers; it subjects family members, employers, religious institutions, and others to criminal penalties under broadened definitions of smuggling, harboring, and transporting; it expands expedited removal and mandatory detention; and it creates an unworkable employer verification system that will displace millions of workers and disrupt the economy. All of these provisions will have a far-reaching impact on the entire Latino community, yet none would solve our very real immigration problems. H.R. 4437 does not put us on a path toward comprehensive immigration reform; rather it stymies constructive debate and is an affront to those who are truly interested in solutions.
As you know, leaders from both political parties have acknowledged the need to address our immigration problems in a comprehensive manner and are working on realistic, rational immigration reform legislation. However, House Republicans have provided this shortsighted and mean-spirited bill which is intended to appear tough on immigration without resolving our nation’s immigration problems. Only a comprehensive approach that provides a path to citizenship for current undocumented immigrants, creates new legal channels for future flows of needed immigrants, reduces family immigration backlogs, and protects worker rights will reduce undocumented immigration and bring order to our immigration system.
We are shocked and saddened by your Administration’s statement of strong support for H.R. 4437. It is difficult to understand how you will explain your posture on this legislation to the Latino community, which is following this debate very closely. We urge you to withdraw your support for H.R. 4437 and get back on the path toward comprehensive immigration reform.
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)