- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico and the United States have formed a high-level, joint working group to make immigration safer and more orderly, Mexican officials announced Friday.

The working group will focus on making documented migration easier, protecting migrants’ rights and improving procedures for repatriating migrants, the Mexican Foreign Relations Department said in a statement.

It also will focus on steps to inform the public about the dangers of trying to cross the border without documents.

The group was formed following meetings between U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

The two officials also want to create a long-term study group on border issues such as the environment, water and health.

While the outflow of Mexican migrants has fallen dramatically, immigration remains an important bilateral issue.

The net outflow of Mexicans _ both legal and illegal _ declined by more than 50 percent in the 12 months ending in August 2008, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the Mexican National Statistics, Geography and Information Institute.

The net outflow of Mexicans _ those leaving the country minus those returning from abroad _ dropped to 204,000 people between August 2007 and August 2008. That was down from 455,000 for the year ending in August 2007.

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