- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2003

Mexico seeks amnesty

A top Mexican official yesterday called on the United States to legalize millions of Mexican immigrants here and criticized the U.S. “policy of containment” along the southern border.

“Today there are nearly 4 million Mexicans working in the United States with no record of who they are, where they live, where they work and when they entered the United States,” said Secretary of Governance Santiago Creel, whose position is similar to the U.S. secretary of homeland security.

“Does it not make sense to improve security by allowing them to become fully recognized and legal?”

Mr. Creel, addressing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the District, blamed U.S. border-control policies for endangering Mexicans who try to enter the United States illegally.

Since the September 11 terrorists attacks, many American lawmakers and policy analysts have argued for stricter border controls to prevent terrorists from sneaking into the United States and to combat drug smuggling.

“The policy of containment implemented by the United States on its southern border has not been able to stop the migration flow,” Mr. Creel said. “The widespread surveillance has only changed the traditional routes taken by migrants and increased the price they have to pay to get across.

“This situation has strengthened the smugglers who risk the migrants’ lives, taking them through dangerous and isolated places.”

Mr. Creel said Mexican President Vicente Fox is working with President Bush to improve border security. He said Mexico wants the United States to provide a guest-worker program so Mexicans can gain legal status and travel back and forth across the border. Mr. Creel said “migrants” sent more than $9 billion to relatives in Mexico last year alone.

“This is part of our struggle — to create the conditions so they may have the right to come back to our country and then go back to their jobs in the United States without having to suffer abuse and humiliation or the risk of injury or even death,” he said.

Mr. Creel argued that, with 23 million Americans born in Mexico or descended from Mexicans, national borders are “no longer what they used to be.”

“Borders should not divide people and nations. Borders must be increasingly points of encounter and integration, not of division and, even less of segregation,” he said.

“We cannot be distant neighbors, nor can we look at the border as a historical scar that sets us apart.”

N. Korean pornography

The U.S. ambassador to Australia yesterday accused North Korea of peddling pornography and smuggling rhinoceros horns to replace money that the starving Stalinist nation used to get from the former Soviet Union.

“When the Soviets were no more, the North Koreans had a revenue shortfall. They seem to have decided that a mafia-like business model is the best way to replace that revenue,” Ambassador Tom Schieffer told the National Press Club in the Australian capital, Canberra.

In addition to selling missiles to rogue nations, North Korea has been “caught trying to sell pornography in Finland and prohibited animal products, like rhinoceros horn, in Africa, counterfeiting in Kuwait and trafficking heroin in Australia,” he said.

Indonesia objects

Indonesia yesterday summoned U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce to demand an explanation for a possible violation of its airspace by U.S. warplanes.

Chief Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told the Reuters news agency that Indonesia was alarmed when Navy F-18 Hornets prepared to fire on Indonesian jets sent to intercept them last week.

Mr. Boyce explained that the United States notified Indonesia of the overflight, but the military did not receive it in time to call back its own planes. The Hornets were guarding a U.S. naval convoy that passed through Indonesian waters.

Mr. Yudhoyono said Mr. Boyce responded “very seriously” to Indonesia’s concerns.

“I have received a commitment that U.S. jet fighters will not fly above Indonesian land or islands unless a permit from the Indonesian government has been received,” Mr. Yudhoyono said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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