Mexico to Give Migrants Maps of Arizona
01-25-2006, 04:52 PM
Mexico to Give Migrants Maps of Arizona
So what do yall think....
MEXICO CITY (Jan. 25) - A Mexican government commission said Tuesday it will distribute at least 70,000 maps showing highways, rescue beacons and water tanks in the Arizona desert to curb the death toll among illegal border crossers.
The National Human Rights Commission, a government-funded agency with independent powers, denied the maps - similar to a comic-style guide booklet Mexico distributed last year - would encourage illegal immigration.
Officials said the maps would help guide those in trouble find rescue beacons and areas with cell phone reception. The maps will also show the distance a person can walk in the desert in a single day.
"We are not trying in any way to encourage or promote migration," said Mauricio Farah, one of the commission's national inspectors. "The only thing we are trying to do is warn them of the risks they face and where to get water, so they don't die."
Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the U.S. Homeland Security Department, questioned whether the maps would keep those crossing the border safer.
"It is not helpful for anyone, no matter how well intended they might be, to produce road maps that lead aliens into the desolate and dangerous areas along the border, and potentially invite criminal activity, human exploitation and personal risk," he said.
And some advocates of greater immigration control were irritated by the map announcement.
"What's next? Are they going to buy them bus tickets to Chicago?" said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank. "It's clearly a bad thing for Mexico to be encouraging illegal immigration."
The comic booklet for migrants was distributed by the government in early 2005 and warned of the perils of crossing illegally into the United States, while offering tips to stay safe.
The booklet, of which about 1.5 million were printed, enraged some advocates of stricter immigration policies in the United States who argue that it encouraged illegal migration.
Farah said his commission was simply trying to prevent deaths and estimated that around 500 Mexicans died trying to cross the border in 2005. Many die in the desert, where summer temperatures soar above 100 degrees, and many drown while attempting to cross the Rio Grande river.
The commission plans to hang the poster-size maps in March in places where migrants will see them, such as migrant-aid groups, the commission's offices and in Mexican border towns.
They were designed by the Tucson, Ariz.-based rights group Humane Borders, which operates some of the desert water stations. The group previously distributed about 100 posters in the Mexican border town of Sasabe.
The Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Humane Borders, said maps are needed in southern Mexico so migrants can weigh the risks before leaving home.
Some of the posters have warnings, such as "Don't go. There isn't enough water," but officials conceded many migrants were unlikely to heed the advice.
Knocke said the United States had increased personnel and surveillance along the border to discourage illegal crossings and immigrant smugglers.
"Our message should be clear: we are securing our borders and we're dramatically increasing the likelihood of apprehensions," he said.
Farah said migration "is a human right" and that "the United States should be grateful" the commission is doing something to curb the death toll, because "hundreds of thousands of Mexicans help maintain their economy."
Mexicans working in the United States are a huge source of revenue for Mexico, sending home more than $16 billion in remittances in 2004, Mexico's second largest source of foreign currency after oil exports according to the country's central bank.
Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.
01/24/06 18:24 EST
01-26-2006, 04:22 PM
MEXICO CITY - Mexico will suspend its plan to distribute maps to migrants wanting to cross the U.S. border illegally, but an official said Thursday the decision was not made because of American pressure.
Miguel Angel Paredes, spokesman for the federal Human Rights Commission, said the government wanted to "rethink" its plan because human rights officials in border states expressed concern that the maps would show anti-immigrant groups — like the Minutemen civilian patrols — where migrants likely would gather.
"This would be practically like telling the Minutemen where the migrants are going to be," Paredes said. "We are going to rethink this, so that we wouldn't almost be handing them over to groups that attack migrants."
On Wednesday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the United States opposed the plan "in the strongest terms." He said the effort would lead more people to cross the border, "leading to more migrant deaths and the further enrichment of the criminal human trafficking rings."
Paredes was asked if the Mexican decision was a response to U.S. pressure.
"No, we are not responding to that," he said. "We have not taken that into account."
The commission, a Mexican government-funded agency with independent powers, originally said it would print and pay for at least 70,000 maps showing highways, rescue beacons and water tanks in the Arizona desert.
The posters were to have been distributed in border towns and through human rights offices in Mexico starting in March, when illegal border crossings are usually high.
The commission denied the maps would encourage illegal immigration, saying instead they would help guide those in trouble.
Now, the group will "seek other ways" to help migrants, Paredes said.
The map dispute follows a string of other diplomatic rows involving the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. border states say they are fed up with illegal migration and drug trafficking and are pressuring the U.S. government to boost protection, including by extending a wall along the common frontier, something Mexico bitterly resents.
Mexico is angry about U.S. civilian groups that have organized patrols along the border and has accused them of attacking migrants.
However, there is little evidence of that and the groups seldom — if ever — target water tanks or rescue beacons.
One of the most well-known groups, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, placed a link to the maps on its Web site but did not advocate using them to find illegal migrants.
The posters were designed by the Tucson, Ariz.-based rights group Humane Borders, which operates several desert water stations. The group previously distributed about 100 posters in the Mexican border town of Sasabe.
Some of the posters have warnings, such as: "Don't go. There isn't enough water."
However, officials conceded many migrants were unlikely to heed the advice.
This some real stuff you can not ignore it...
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