Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mexican president blasts U.S. for deportations; promises to fight for immigrant rights

By TRACI CARL - Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY (AP) - President Felipe Calderon blasted the United States on Sunday for immigration policies that have divided families and slowed the amount of money sent home by Mexicans living north of the border.

The criticism earned Calderon a standing ovation during his first state-of-the nation address.

"We strongly protest the unilateral measures taken by the U.S. Congress and government that have only persecuted and exacerbated the mistreatment of Mexican undocumented workers" he said. "The insensitivity toward those who support the U.S. economy and society has only served as an impetus to reinforce the battle ... for their rights".

He also reached out to the millions of Mexicans living in the United States, many illegally, saying: «Mexico does not end at its borders. Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico.

Calderon called on the country to create a foreign policy that ensured there was «more Mexico in the world, and more of the world in Mexico.» And he said the United States and Mexico need to work together to develop «the region's enormous potential.

«We need to create a strong, winning Mexico that is sure of itself,» he said. «Mexico's challenge is being able to strengthen its international position.
Since taking office in December, Calderon has maintained strong ties with the United States, but he also has not shied away from criticizing his powerful neighbor.

He has often denounced U.S. immigration policy, including stepped up deportations that have divided many families, sometimes forcing U.S.-born children to build new lives in Mexico.

In one of the most high-profile cases, illegal immigrant Elvira Arellano was deported recently to Mexico after spending a year in a Chicago church to avoid being sent home. Her 9-year-old son Saul, who is a U.S. citizen, flew to Mexico on Friday to be reunited with his mother and plans to stay indefinitely, helping her fight to return to the United States.