THE VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
In Mexico, a border fence is seen as insulting, ineffective
By Juan Castillo
Sunday, July 01, 2007
REYNOSA, Tamulipas — The flip side of the illegal immigration equation — that it's Americans who employ millions of illegal workers and consume enormous amounts of illicit drugs trafficked from Mexico — is rarely forgotten south of the U.S. border. It charges the undercurrent in any debate about beefed-up border enforcement, from the deployment of National Guard troops to building a border wall.
"The fence is an insult," said Jesus Garcia, 69, a Mexican native who, like many people here, has close ties and family in two countries.
Moments earlier, he had crossed the international bridge in the sticky afternoon heat to visit relatives in Reynosa. Garcia said he has been a legal permanent resident of the United States for 20 years, living in Edinburg, about 15 miles north of the river.
Garcia thinks a fence will harm U.S.-Mexico relations and won't prevent people from entering the United States illegally. He pointed out that 6 million of the estimated 12 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the United States entered legally with visas, which they overstayed.
"A fence surely won't stop them," Garcia said.
Efrén Zequera, a 24-year-old taxi driver, said a fence will create only enough obstacles that smugglers will jack up their prices.
"The U.S. will spend millions on a fence. Mexican hands will build it," said Zequera, who was waiting for fares coming home from their jobs north of the river or from shopping there.
At the downtown plaza nearby, Hector Rocha, a 37-year-old technician at one of the city's maquiladoras, or plants, said the key piece of a solution for illegal immigration is for Mexico to create more economic opportunities, ending the pull of jobs north of the border.
"The United States could help, too, if it resolved political differences and created more legal opportunities for illegal immigrants," Rocha said. "But the principal solution lies with Mexico."