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Mexico Calls for New Approach on Immigration Issue

Mexican President Vicente Fox says serious discussions and cooperation between the United States and Mexico, rather than reinforcing the entire border with a fence, is the way to organize orderly migration, while insuring security.

President Bush toured the American Southwest states of Arizona and New Mexico earlier this week to promote and explain what he called his "comprehensive immigration strategy."

The illegal immigration situation in these two states is so serious that the governors have declared statewide emergencies. The U.S. Congress is scheduled to vote on border enforcement legislation soon.

President Bush said those who wantonly violate U.S. immigration laws are going to be turned around and sent home. He said a reinforced border patrol is also needed. But, Mr. Bush is also proposing a temporary guest worker program, which would legally place migrant workers, mostly from Mexico, in key areas of U.S industry and agriculture.

According to his plan, migrant workers could spend up to six years in the United States, before having to return home for at least a year.

In a meeting with foreign correspondents in Mexico City Tuesday, President Fox was careful to emphasize the partnership between the two countries on the issue. He said a fence spanning the entire border, as some Americans have proposed, is not a quick answer to the problem.

"I think it is very important to recall that the United States is a nation of migrants and the strength and the capacity of that nation is expressed on its multi ethnical, multi nation, nationalities that the population has. And walls, or all the kind of Minutes [Minuteman, a private citizen group that was formed to patrol the border themselves in Arizona] won't do the job," said Mr. Fox. "The best way is to have understanding, to have the will to make this partnership successful."

The Mexican leader expressed hope that the U.S. congress will soon make progress on the immigration legislation. But, he reminded the Bush administration that many American jobs are dependent on a growing Mexican demand for American goods.

"We import from the Untied States, or we buy from the United States, more products and services than Italy, Spain, Germany and England put together. This means a lot of jobs in the United States. And, we have to build a common future," he said. "We have to build prosperity together."

The guest worker program in the United States has been President Fox's main concern in Mexico's historic relations with its northern neighbor. But, negotiations between the two nations was harmed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. And then, talks were again shelved over President Fox's refusal to support the U.S./led war against Iraq in 2003.

Since then, Mexico has steped-up its efforts to cooperate with the United States in the battle against terrorism and drug trafficking along their common border.