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Collapse of immigration bill draws jeers in Mexico

Published June 30, 2007


MEXICO CITY - Opinionmakers and migrant advocates in Mexico said Friday that the collapse of U.S. immigration reform plans hurts Mexican workers, U.S. employers and antiterrorism efforts.

President Bush's plan to legalize as many as 12-million unlawful immigrants from around the world while fortifying the border failed in the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

"This is very bad news for Mexican migrants in the U.S., " said Jorge Bustamante, special rapporteur to the U.N. human rights commission for migrants. "It means the continuation and probably a worsening of the migrants' vulnerable conditions."

The Rev. Luis Kendziersky, director of a shelter for migrants in the border city of Tijuana, said it appeared senators "are focused more on the political game than on the real needs of the people."

"According to polls, the majority of the people (in the United States) want legality with concessions for undocumented migrants, but the radicals make a lot of noise, " he said.

Some major newspapers called the Senate's action hypocritical.

"It's obvious that the politicians of that country want laborers, but they are not willing to legalize the labor that they need, " El Universal said in an editorial.

On Thursday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon called the Senate's decision a "grave error" and a failure to find a "sensible, rational, legal solution to the migration problem."

Not everyone in Mexico was disappointed by the death of the bill, which would have created a system to weed out illegal workers from U.S. jobs.

Al Rojas, spokesman for the advocacy group Front of Mexicans Abroad, said the law "would have imposed prejudices, treating migrants like criminals and judging them."

"Faced with a bad law, we preferred that they approved nothing, " he said in a telephone interview.

[Last modified June 30, 2007, 00:08:13]

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