Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mexico May Challenge US Border Fence At The UN

Mexico said it may go to the United Nations to challenge U.S. plans to build hundreds of miles (kilometers) of fences on its southern border. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez told a news conference Wednesday that the proposal to put up what he called a wall was an "offense." Asked if he would take the issue up with the United Nations, a step some Mexican lawmakers have called for, Derbez replied: "Without a doubt, we are examining with the foreign relations legal team what options are open at an international level and we will take them." On Wednesday, Bush signed a homeland security funding bill that includes $1.2 billion for fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants and criminals sneaking over.Outgoing President Vicente Fox has called the fence plan "shameful" and compared it to the Berlin Wall. Fox has spent his six-year term lobbying for a new guest worker program and an amnesty for Mexicans working illegally in the United States. On Tuesday, all eight parties in Mexico's Congress joined forces to exhort Fox to use all the diplomatic means at his disposal to try to stop the construction of the fences. Fox's spokesman Ruben Aguilar said Wednesday the U.S. Congress is unlikely to approve enough funding to finish the project, despite the $1.2 billion approved. "There is no money to build it, so it won't be built," Aguilar told reporters. While some say the whole project could be finished at a total cost of $2.2 billion, others say it could be much higher; a 14-mile (23-kilometer) segment of fence under construction in San Diego is costing about $9 million per mile. President-elect Felipe Calderon, who takes office on Dec. 1, has also attacked the fence plans. "One could stop more migrants with a kilometer of new roads and development ( in Mexico) than with a wall," he said. There are an estimated 11 million Mexican living in the United States, about half illegally.