Border fence
John Miller  /  AP
This is the border fence separating the United States, left, from Mexico, right, as seen from downtown Nogales, Ariz., on Monday.
updated 5/15/2006 8:08:59 PM ET 2006-05-16T00:08:59

Looking for someone to help him cross into the United States, Jorge Gutierrez said Monday it will take a lot more than U.S. National Guard troops to keep him and other migrants out.

Most Mexicans believe the plan, to be announced Monday night by President Bush, will do little to stop the flow north. President Vicente Fox called Bush this weekend to say he didn’t believe sending soldiers to the border was the answer.

The countries have rarely seen eye-to-eye since Bush and Fox agreed to work toward immigration reform five years ago at a meeting at Fox’s ranch in Mexico. Fox wants the Bush administration to give amnesty to millions of migrants living in the U.S. and allow more to seek jobs legally from outside the country.

Bush rejected the idea of an amnesty and instead proposed allowing people with job offers to enter the United States and work legally for three years. The topic has generated fierce debate in Congress, where members are divided between those who want to see more security at the border and those who want immigration reform.

Bush is expected to propose sending National Guard troops to the border as a stopgap measure while the Border Patrol builds up its resources to more effectively secure the 2,000-mile line between the U.S. and Mexico.

The move is aimed at winning support for immigration reform from conservatives who are more interested in tightening security along the border.

‘There are no obstacles’
Gutierrez, who had just arrived in Juarez from Torreon to look for a way to cross illegally into the United States, said he didn’t believe the troops would make a difference.

“No guard, no wall will keep us from crossing,” he said.

Jesus Rodriguez, 49, agreed. He was looking for ways to cross one of Juarez’s international bridges. “For Mexicans, there are no obstacles,” he said.

Francisco Loureiro, who runs a migrant shelter in Nogales, across the border from Nogales, Ariz., criticized the plan as an “aggressive action more than anything because the migrant is not a criminal or a terrorist.”

“His only objective is to work ... and a government that supposedly lobbies for world peace is now acting against defenseless migrants who are helping to fill a need for employers in the U.S,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar told reporters Monday that while Fox “expressed his concern” over the proposal to Bush, he had no choice but to respect it.

“It is a sovereign decision,” he said. “We can’t interfere.”

$20 billion to Mexico
Mexico has had a tough time convincing the United States that it is doing everything it can to prevent and provide alternatives to illegal migration, especially when it is dependent on the money migrants send home.

In 2005, migrants sent about $20 billion to Mexico, where remittances represent the second-largest source of foreign income, after oil sales.

The government may have been able to prevent the growing backlash against migrants in the United States if it had showed it was improving opportunities for Mexicans at home, said Rodolfo Garcia, an economist at the University of Zacatecas.

Consequently, instead of sharply protesting Bush’s National Guard plan, Fox’s administration is more likely to justify it, Garcia said, hoping that it will help Bush soften attitudes toward guest-worker and legalization proposals.

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