MEXICO MEDDLING: WANTS TO DETERMINE AMERICA'S IMMIGRATION POLICY - FORGET SECURITY
Ambassador: Mexico to lobby hard for immigration reform
Posted 2/20/2007 7:57 PM ET
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Determined to secure a migration accord, Mexico plans to begin an aggressive lobbying effort similar to its push to join the North American Free Trade Agreement, the country's new ambassador to the United States said Tuesday.
Mexican consulates in the United States will be on the front lines of the effort, and will talk with state and federal lawmakers, business chambers, civic organizations and "all actors of U.S. society" who support a comprehensive immigration reform, Arturo Sarukhan said.
"There are few matters so important to the future of this country," Sarukhan told reporters in Mexico City before departing for Washington.
The ambassador said Mexico has a brief window before campaigning begins in for the 2008 U.S. presidential election to convince Washington to approve immigration reforms.
"We are going to put into place the same kind of diplomatic and lobbying effort that we did in the early 1990s when NAFTA was being decided," said Sarukhan, who was consul general in New York during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and a campaign adviser to Calderon.
Mexico wants Washington to usher through reforms to create a guest worker program, provide a legal path for millions of Mexicans living in the United States and allow for the reunification of families split by immigration laws.
President George W. Bush supports giving Mexican migrants temporary work visas. But he has failed to win support in Congress. Prior to November's congressional elections, a Republican-led Congress favored increasing security and building border walls to prevent illegal immigration.
Sarukhan expressed "cautious optimism" Tuesday about the new U.S. Congress dominated by Democrats and said Mexico wants to move the debate away from security, which he said immigration reform opponents used to put the brakes on the issue.