A healthy majority of Mexicans claim that their country rightfully owns much of the southwestern United States, while most Americans believe Washington should adopt stricter immigration standards and deploy U.S. troops along the border, a new poll says.

According to a just-published survey conducted by Zogby International, the polling firm found that a majority of Mexicans say the U.S. southwest “rightfully belongs to Mexico,” and that Mexican citizens should be able to come into those areas freely, without U.S. permission.

The poll found that 58 percent of Mexicans agree with the statement, “The territory of the United States’ southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico.” Zogby said 28 percent disagreed, while another 14 percent said they weren’t sure.

Meanwhile, a similar number – 57 percent – agreed that “Mexicans should have the right to enter the U.S. without U.S. permission,” while 35 percent disagreed and 7 percent were unsure.

“There is obviously a large and significant gap between the attitudes of Americans and Mexicans,” said Robert Goldsborough, president of Americans for Immigration Control, which commissioned the poll.

“While most Americans want immigration reduced, most Mexicans think they don’t even need permission to enter our country,” he said. “The poll clearly shows there is less common ground for immigration negotiations between Mexico and the U.S. than the leaders think.

“Support for a porous border and a loose immigration policy occurs only on the Mexican side, not in the U.S.,” said Goldsborough.

The poll found that 58 percent of the 1,015 Americans polled between May 28 and May 30 want the government to admit fewer immigrants each year, compared to 30 percent who want to keep immigration at current levels and just 6 percent who want to admit more.

Fully 65 percent of Americans, Zogby said, don’t support granting amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., as President Bush has advocated, compared to 26 percent who do support it.

Also, 68 percent said they agreed that U.S. troops should be temporarily deployed along the U.S. border “to help the U.S. Border Patrol curb illegal immigration.” Twenty-eight percent disagreed, while 3 percent said they weren’t sure.

Zogby polled 801 Mexican citizens for that part of the survey from May 25-26. The poll’s margin of error was 3.5 percent.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., head of the House Immigration Caucus, told WorldNetDaily some of the results of the survey did not surprise him, but others did.

He said he was aware that most Americans oppose the administration’s amnesty proposals, but did not know that a majority supported putting troops on U.S. borders.

“I would have never thought that fully 68 percent supported that idea,” he said.

Tancredo said he had already planned a press conference for early next week to discuss a proposal to place American military forces on the borders.

The Colorado Republican said, “[Mexican] President Vincente Fox has stated that the borders of Mexico extend” beyond the country. “He has created a ministry for Mexicans living outside of Mexico that has provided goody bags for … people coming across the border.”

Tancredo said he and other House members have overheard other Mexican officials say “there are not two countries, [the U.S.] is just a [Mexican] region.”

“I have seldom seen such a discrepancy between what the public wants and what the Congress is willing to give,” he said of the poll’s results.

Tancredo said Democrats support massive “legal and illegal” immigration because “it supports the Democratic voting pool,” while Republicans “support unlimited immigration because it supports the cheap labor pool.”

“This problem is inextricably tied to our national security,” he said in a tie-in with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Other immigration-control groups say the problem is getting worse.

According to a new report published yesterday by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, about one-quarter of all legal immigrants being “admitted” into the U.S. “are people who came here illegally and are adjusting their status.”

The report, “The Truth Behind 245(i) Amnesty: How Illegal Immigrants are Taking Over Our Legal Immigration System,” found that since 1994, “it is likely 1.4 million illegal aliens will have received what is in essence an amnesty by the end of this year.”

The report contends those numbers will multiply under the Bush administration’s amnesty proposal.

Section 245(i) was initially instituted as a “temporary” program in 1994, but Congress has extended the program several times. Bush, as well as some lawmakers, wants to make the provision a permanent part of U.S. immigration policy.

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