Terror Brings Distant Neighbors Closer

March 5, 2004

MEXICO CITY – U.S. Homeland Security SecretaryTomRidge recently held a news conference with his Mexican counterpart, Interior Minister Santiago Creel, which reflected an unexpected dividend in the war on terrorism: A significant improvement in Washington’s relations with its southern neighbor.

Mexico has seen the Bush administration embrace its top priority – reform of U.S. immigration laws – in part because of a growing network of relationships between Ridge, Creel and aides.

In announcing his immigration reform plan, Bush embraced Ridge’s reasoning that the United States would be more secure if millions of illegal immigrants identified themselves to the government in exchange for work permits.

What lies behind the unforeseen link between homeland security and better relations with Mexico is not idealism or ideology but practical necessity.

U.S. officials fear the 1,951-mile border with Mexico could become an entry point for terrorists. Mexican officials worry that if terrorists use their country as a springboard for an attack, the angry backlash from the United States could cripple their economy and impede travel of their citizens who send home badly needed funds.

 

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