Mexico Opposed To U.S. Border Fence

AP, September 29, 2006

Mexico City—Mexico warned Thursday that the U.S. proposal to build miles of border fence will damage relations between the two countries.

The Foreign Relations Department said it was “deeply worried” about the proposal, which is working its way through the Senate, adding it will “increase tension in border communities.”

“These measures will harm the bilateral relationship. They are against the spirit of co-operation that is needed to guarantee security on the common border,” the department said in a statement.

The House of Representatives and Senate are maneuvering to speed construction of a 700-mile fence along the United States’ southern border aimed at keeping migrants and criminals from entering the country illegally.

A House-Senate homeland security funding bill containing $1.2 billion to begin building the fence could be passed and sent to President Bush before lawmakers depart Washington this weekend.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said that only a comprehensive immigration reform would stop millions of Mexicans sneaking across its northern desert and swimming over the Rio Grande into the United States.

“A partial measure that is exclusively focused on security does not deal with reality and represents a political answer rather than a viable solution,” it said in the statement.

President Vicente Fox has rallied against the wall, calling it “shameful” and comparing it to the Berlin Wall, which divided Germany.

President-elect Felipe Calderon, who takes over from Fox on Dec.1, has also spoken out against the measure.

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Tijuana—U.S. authorities determined yesterday that a tunnel under construction on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro border crossing had actually extended into the United States.

The tunnel crossed about 15 feet into U.S. territory, though it had no exit on the U.S. side, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mexican authorities detained five people—including two Mexican Customs inspectors—suspected of being involved in the construction. The tunnel was found Tuesday.

U.S. authorities found digging equipment inside the 4-foot-by-4-foot tunnel, which had been reinforced with wood and plastic, Mack said.

Though it wasn’t as sophisticated as other tunnels found along the border, the find was notable because it implicates members of Mexican Customs.

The tunnel, like four others found over the past year in the same general area, originated in a gated junkyard that the federal agency uses.

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One of the suspects caught at the tunnel, Carlos López López, 27, was overseeing the construction, according to a news release from Mexico’s federal secretary of public security.

López allegedly was paying $20 a day to two other suspects caught with him—Sergio Macías Ángel, 32, and Claudio Rivera Miramontes, 52—to dig the passageway from 7 p.m. and 4 a.m., the release said.

Also found with them was Customs inspector Rubén Contreras Hernández, 32, who was detained. Contreras said his supervisor had forced him to stand guard during the construction, the release said.

The supervisor, identified as Jesús Roberto Girón Rodríguez, was taken into custody.

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