A Mexican senator from President Vicente Fox’s party is pushing a bill that would dispatch federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to the border to stop migrants from crossing into the U.S., saying he wants to cut down on the death toll suffered by illegal aliens.
Sen. H?ctor Osuna of the National Action Party says he hopes to lower the number of Mexicans dying in their attempt to reach the U.S., which last year reached a record high of 369, the San Antonio Express-News reported. Migrants die of heat stroke, drowning, dehydration or assaults.
“I’m a border man; I’ve personally seen how dangerous it is out there,” Osuna, a Tijuana mayor in the 1990s, told the paper from Mexico City. “We need to convince people once and for all to stop leading themselves to their own death.”
Osuna’s idea is a hot topic in Mexico, with some senators accusing him of violating the Mexican Constitution and migrant advocates likening him to anti-immigration forces in the U.S.
The bill originally called for the Mexican army to shut down the entire border with the United States, but after it passed a committee, the government pressured him into withdrawing the legislation and toning it down. According to the Express-News, the bill now calls for shutting down just the most deadly crossing areas, such as the Sonoran Desert along the Arizona border.
Despite opposition, Osuna told the paper he remains optimistic his idea will gain momentum and become law this year. He said he’d leave operational aspects to law enforcement agencies, but would not want migrants to be physically confronted – just transported to nearby shelters.
“It’s not about making arrests or physically restraining people. It’s about telling them: Another day, another place,” Osuna said.
Opponents claim the bill would violate Mexicans’ constitutional right of unrestricted movement throughout the country, though Osuna counters that the government has to power to place restrictions in the name of national security.
“He wants the Mexican government to do the (U.S.) Border Patrol’s dirty work,” Arturo Sol?s, director of the Center for Border Studies and Promotion of Human Rights in Reynosa, told the Express-News.
Not surprisingly, U.S. immigration activists support Osuna’s proposal.
“He’s a genius as far as I’m concerned,” John Hern?ndez, founder of Texans for Immigration Reform and Americans for Zero Immigration, is quoted as saying. “Maybe it’ll finally make the Mexican people realize that they need to stay home.”
Salvador Zamora, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, said the project would be “a huge step forward” in saving lives.