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Bush: No Blanket Immunity for Mexican Immigrants - 2001-08-10

President Bush's cabinet members, ending a day of talks on border issues with their Mexican counterparts Thursday, said the President has no plans to grant a blanket amnesty to the several million Mexicans working in this country illegally. But both governments are hoping to come up with new ideas on immigration and humane methods of border patrol by the time Mexican President Vicente Fox comes to Washington next month.

Secretary of State Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft met with Mexico's foreign and interior ministers to work out what Mr. Powell calls a humane approach to the problem of illegal immigration. Over the past four years, more than a thousand Mexicans have died from exposure trying to cross the U.S. border illegally. "This is an issue that requires the closest consultation before our two nations and, of course, here in the United States," said Mr. Powell. "The closest consultations between the administration and the Congress and other interested groups."

No final decisions were reached in Thursday's talks. The Bush Administration has shelved a proposal that would have granted amnesty to as many as three million Mexicans working illegally in the United States, a measure that was strongly supported by the Mexican government. The idea angered would-be immigrants from countries other than Mexico who would be left out of the deal, and drew fire from anti-immigration groups in this country and even from members of President Bush's own Republican Party.

Instead, the administration is considering allowing Mexicans already here to be granted a temporary form of guest worker status. In the meantime, leaders from a dozen unions representing Latin American immigrants in the United States plan to visit several Central American countries next week to make the point that any plan to ease immigration from America's southern neighbors must include people from countries other than just Mexico.