Mexicans Say Guard Won't Slow Migrants
Monday, May 15, 2006; 11:55 PM
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- President Bush's decision to send the National Guard to the Mexican border drew an angry response from migrants who said troops would not deter them, while Mexico's government said Monday it would respect the U.S. action as "a sovereign decision."
After Bush announced the plan to send 6,000 soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border late Monday, would-be migrants at a shelter in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez said the presence of troops would not stop them from sneaking across the Rio Grande.
"I have no work in my country so if the soldiers turn me back, I will try again," said Raul Garduno, a 28-year old Salvadoran.
On Sunday, President Vicente Fox telephoned Bush to express concern about what he called plans to "militarize" the border. But on Monday, Fox's spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, said Mexico had no choice but to respect the action.
"It is a sovereign decision," he said. "We can't interfere."
In a further sign that Mexico would not take a strong stance against the U.S. announcement, the Foreign Relations Department released a statement saying that Bush's message showed a "recognition of the importance of immigrants to the social, political and economic life (of the United States) and reinforced the vision that the migration phenomenon needs an integral reform."
But presidential hopeful Felipe Calderon from Fox's National Action Party said the military presence would endanger migrants, while failing to stop the human wave heading northwards.
"These measures have been proven mistaken. They increase the social and human costs for migrants and only benefit criminal groups that make money on the hopes and suffering of those looking for an opportunity," Calderon said in a statement.
In a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez, a group of 10 Central Mexicans and Central Americans watched a soap opera while Bush's speech was broadcast live on the other channel.
"People here have more important things to do then watch Bush," said Carlos Amado Luarca, a Dominican monk who works in the shelter. "This plan to send soldiers is one more sign of the decadence of the American empire."
Along the border in Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas, Honduran Antonio Auriel said he would make it into the United States whatever was in his path.
"Soldiers in the border? That won't stop me. I'll swim the river and jump the wall. I'm going to arrive in the United States," Auriel 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 employees in the U.S.," he said.
U.S. ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza issued a statement defending Bush's decision.
"The United States has the right as a sovereign nation to make our border region more secure," Garza said. "The president is the commander in chief of the United States, and his responsibilities include ensuring the safety of the American people."
Associated Press Writer Ioan Grillo contributed to this report from Mexico City.