- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

ATLANTA — Immigration reform is too big for a single country to handle, and both Mexico and the United States need to work constructively on the issue, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States said Wednesday.

“We need to start talking like neighbors, stop the ‘blame game’ and start looking at this issue constructively,” Ambassador Carlos de Icaza said during a visit to the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta.

Mr. de Icaza was in Atlanta to be the keynote speaker of a Georgia Tech symposium. “We need both the United States and Mexico to acknowledge that international cooperation is essential in the immigration issue. No country can solve this dilemma by itself.”

The ambassador’s comments came a day after supporters of the U.S. House version of immigration reform legislation said illegal aliens put undue strain on the nation’s health care system.

Rep. Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said during the congressional field hearing in Dalton, Ga., that fewer poor Americans are able to receive Medicaid “because illegal aliens get Medicaid.”

Congress remains deadlocked between the House and Senate versions of immigration reform legislation. Some Republicans say the Senate plan does not go far enough and object to certain provisions, including one that would allow some illegal aliens already in the United States to work toward becoming citizens.

“The fact that Congress is holding hearings all around the country means there is a great interest in reforming the immigration laws,” Mr. de Icaza said. “We sincerely hope while doing this they acknowledge they have a neighbor to the south, that it is a friendly neighbor to the U.S.”

Mr. de Icaza said he hoped any U.S. immigration reform legislation would address the security needs of the United States as well as “the reality” of the border situation, which is that Mexican workers will continue to seek jobs in the U.S. economy — which acts like a “magnet” because it is 15 times as large as Mexico’s.

Mexico would like to see a guest-worker program in the United States and wants to ensure that Mexican workers in the United States are able to function without fear, he said.

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