- The Washington Times - Friday, June 3, 2005

The governor of Sonora, Mexico, through which more than half of the migrants crossing illegally each year into America pass, says his country and the United States must “work together” to create more jobs in Mexico to curtail illegal immigration.

Gov. Eduardo Bours Castelo, in an interview yesterday with The Washington Times, also said Mexico and the United States need to better coordinate the flow of information from federal authorities to state and local officials in both countries and warned that civilians attempting to fill the immigration enforcement void was “just not a good idea.”

“A huge number of people are moving through Sonora each year, and we need to work together — the United States and Mexico — to find a better way to secure our border,” Mr. Bours said. “Very simply, the only way to address this problem is a coordinated sharing and exchange of information at all levels of government in both countries.

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“But it’s not happening,” he said.

Mr. Bours, in Washington to receive the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “Man of the Year” award from the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, said civilian patrols — such as the Minuteman Project volunteers who massed along a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona-Sonora border in April — were not a solution to the problem of illegal immigration.

Instead, he said, such efforts polarize governments and organizations involved in immigration enforcement and risk the security and stability of the region.

More jobs for Mexican nationals, Mr. Bours said, is “the only solution at the end of the day.” He said Mexico, working through NAFTA with the help of the United States, would give people “a reason to stay” in Mexico.

“That’s the simplistic answer right now, because we don’t have the jobs,” Mr. Bours said. “But if we are going to solve this problem, we are going to have to create them.”

Nearly 580,000 of the 1.15 million illegal aliens apprehended last year by the U.S. Border Patrol were taken into custody after they crossed into Arizona through Sonora.

During the Minuteman Project vigil, Sonora State Police, humanitarian workers and Mexican military personnel sought to dissuade migrants from illegally entering the United States, moving them east and west of the border areas patrolled by the civilian volunteers.

Mr. Bours said at the time that he was trying to prevent violence between the migrants and the Minuteman volunteers. During the Minuteman Project’s 30-day vigil, which led to a significant reduction in the number of illegal aliens crossing into Arizona, there were no reported incidents of violence involving the volunteers.

Elected as governor in 2003, Mr. Bours has sought to increase employment and productivity in Sonora, invest in strategic infrastructure and create sustainable development. In the past year, his administration has created 86,000 new jobs in Sonora. Last year, he signed an agreement with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to establish an Arizona task force and Sonora policy advisory group to develop “a safe and efficient trade corridor.”

He also was successful in getting the Ford Motor Co. to commit to build the 2006 Ford Futura sedan at its Hermosillo plant in Sonora, a commitment that could add as many as 2,000 new employees.

“We have to invest and make new commitments to bring jobs to Mexico,” he said. “Coming from the private sector as I did, I sometimes think we don’t move with the speed you would like. But we have to keep pushing.”

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