May 14, 2005 in Nation/World

Mexico to protest action extending border wall

Traci Carl Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Mexico will send a diplomatic letter to the United States protesting the extension of a wall along the U.S.-California border, officials said Friday.

Ruben Aguilar, a spokesman for President Vicente Fox, said the president would continue to pressure the U.S. government to approve an accord that would allow more migrants to work legally north of the border.

President Bush proposed a temporary work program last year, but it has stalled amid opposition in Congress.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said Thursday that Fox had instructed him to send the diplomatic letter with the message that the wall’s construction was “unacceptable and not a solution.”

A corrugated metal wall – dubbed the “Tortilla Wall” – goes around the edge of Tijuana, but a second and more substantial layer of barriers that was built behind the first one is incomplete and, among other things, does not stretch out into the Pacific. The measures passed this week allow for the completion of that second layer of barriers.

The letter will be Mexico’s first formal protest of new U.S. immigration regulations that require states to verify that people who apply for a driver’s license are in the country legally.

The rules also make it harder for migrants to gain amnesty and easier to override environmental laws to build a barrier along the Mexican border in California.

The new provisions were signed by Bush on Wednesday and threaten to unravel recently patched relations between the United States and Mexico.

“We hope it doesn’t make things worse than they already are, which is the obvious anger that building walls is not the way to resolve things along the border,” Derbez said.

Fox and Bush were friendly after their elections in 2000, but relations between the two deteriorated after Fox opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and Bush failed to pursue a migration accord amid terrorism fears.

Derbez said the Mexican government would continue to support the use of the country’s consular identification cards, issued by the Mexican government to migrants living abroad.

Many migrants use the cards for official business, like opening bank accounts, boarding planes and getting a driver’s license.

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