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Border security plan for Ariz.-Mex. desert expected

Citizen Washington Bureau

By SERGIO BUSTOS

Citizen Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – Border security, not immigration, is expected to monopolize a series of meetings that begin today among top Homeland Security Department officials and their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City.

The two-day talks will include a private breakfast meeting between Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge and Mexican President Vicente Fox tomorrow morning.

The talks come only a month after President Bush met with Fox in Monterrey, Mexico, at the Summit of the Americas and only two weeks before Fox pays Bush a visit at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Tomorrow, Homeland Security officials are expected to announce an as-yet unspecified border security initiative targeting the Arizona-Mexico desert, a popular gateway into the United States for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants each year.

Experts on U.S.-Mexico relations say Ridge’s trip shows the Bush administration remains more worried about dealing with border security issues than about immigration matters.

“This trip is going to be about everything but immigration,” said Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

But he said Fox and other top Mexican government officials would take advantage of every opportunity to bring up immigration during the two-day talks.

Fox is eager to see the Bush administration take aggressive steps to implement any immigration plan that would aid the estimated 4 million to 5 million illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States.

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