Posted on May 17, 2006

Mexico Vows to Sue if Guard Detains

Marina Montemayor, AP, May 17, 2006

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Mexico said yesterday that it would file lawsuits in U.S. courts if National Guard troops on the border become directly involved in detaining migrants.

Mexican border officials said they worried that sending troops to heavily trafficked regions would push migrants into more perilous areas of the U.S.-Mexico border to avoid detection.

President Bush announced Monday that he would send 6,000 National Guard troops to the 2,000-mile border, but they would provide intelligence and surveillance support to U.S. Border Patrol agents, not catch and detain illegal aliens.

“If there is a real wave of rights abuses, if we see the National Guard starting to directly participate in detaining people . . . we would immediately start filing lawsuits through our consulates,” Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez told a Mexico City radio station. He did not offer further details.

Mexican officials worry that the crackdown will lead to more deaths. Since Washington toughened security in Texas and California in 1994, migrants have flooded Arizona’s hard-to-patrol desert, and deaths have spiked. Migrant groups estimate that 500 people died trying to cross the border last year. The Border Patrol reported 473 deaths in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

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