MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Vicente Fox denounced as "disgraceful and shameful" on Wednesday a proposal to build a high-tech wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants.
Concerned about the huge numbers of illegal immigrants streaming across the border and worried it could be an entry point for terrorists, a U.S. lawmaker has proposed building two parallel steel and wire fences running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Coast. But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has said a wall running the length of a border would cost too much.
Mexico has expressed indignation at the idea.
Fox, speaking in Tamaulipas state across the border from Texas, said such extreme security measures would violate immigrants' rights.
"The disgraceful and shameful construction of walls, the increasing enforcement of security systems and increasing violation of human rights and labor rights will not protect the economy of the United States," he said.
He again called for the easing of U.S. immigration laws to benefit millions of undocumented Mexican fruit pickers, waiters and janitors working north of the border, a complex bilateral issue that has at times strained relations with Washington.
"I hope that next year we finally get an immigration agreement," Fox told immigrants crossing the border back to Mexico to spend the holidays with their families.
President George W. Bush pledged recently to step up the use of unmanned flying drones, fences and technology to tighten border security. A 14-mile (23-km) fence south of San Diego has already slashed illegal crossings there, officials say.
Each year, more than 1 million undocumented migrants try to slip across the rivers and deserts on the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S.-Mexico border in search of work in the United States.
Many die en route in the searing desert heat.
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