Former U.S. Ambassador Backs Fox's Border Plan
By SONIA MEISENHEIMER
The News Staff Reporter
WASHINGTON -- North America is facing a future without borders, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jim Jones said Tuesday in echoing recent remarks made by President-elect Vicente Fox.
On Sunday, Fox said he backed an open border policy between Mexico and the United States within 10 years, a goal that Jones described as reasonable and reachable.
Fox has also advocated a guest worker program through which the United States would grant 250,000 work visas to Mexicans, but administration officials said that would require congressional action.
''As long as there is the incentive in the U.S. of jobs here, nothing that Fox proposes is going to change illegal immigration,'' said John Keeley of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank.
Before any change of immigration policy could be considered, Fox's government must ''demonstrate that it can follow through on the many promises made about our common border,'' said Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of a House subcommitte on immigration. ''We are aware of Fox's proposal regarding migration and are prepared to work with him on this and other issues, especially economic issues,'' said a U.S. State Department official.
Without a formal proposal in hand, it would be premature for the State Department to comment on Fox's ideas, he said, adding that any change in immigration law would have to be voted on by Congress.
''Further North American integration is not only possible, but likely,'' said Deborah Meyers, an associate with the Carnegie International Migration Policy Program. ''Canada and Mexico trade most of their goods to the United States anyway, there's no reason to think that won't continue.''
However, borders for goods and borders for labor are separate issues. If the Mexico-U.S. border were to open for free movement of labor, the changes will happen slowly and over time, she said.
Any apparent result will occur in 15 to 20 years at the earliest, not within Fox's 10-year time frame, said Meyers.
''The changes will be so incremental that we'll look back in 20 years and see there's no border for real purposes,'' she said. ''But I don't expect it to be like (the fall of) the Berlin Wall.''
Any negotiation for work visas or free movement between Mexico and the United States would require concessions from Mexico, but a North America without borders would benefit the United States, Mexico and Canada, Meyers said.
Without a strictly defined border, Mexico and the United States would share responsibility for developing border towns and improving living and work standards in these areas, resulting in a reduction of illegal immigration, she said. Regarding the possibility issuing 250,000 work visas per year for Mexicans, ''You'd have more luck finding the Loch Ness monster,'' said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that advocates strict caps on immigration. Stein said the proposals are driven by political rhetoric.
''It's probably not good for him to push such a grandiose plan. There are no easy short-term answers,'' he said. The Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Clinton adminstration also oppose the plan for guest workers, said Daniel Kane, a spokesman for the immigration agency. A guest worker program would contribute to illegal immigration, not decrease it, he said. Such a program also would ''deprive legal U.S. workers of job opportunities and depress wages and working conditions for U.S. workers,'' said Kane.
Robert Leiken, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution disagreed. ''Why not bring the number of immigrants (from Mexico) down to 250,000 and make them legal?'' he asked.
Submitted by Eric V. Wolfe
How much do these yutz's get paid for such brainlessness? "Border towns" "without a strictly defined border"? In other words, wherever the Mexicans are there is Mexico.
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