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Mayors Urge Passage of Immigration Reform
06.05.2006, 08:52 PM

Mayors from more than 200 U.S. cities urged President Bush and Congress on Monday to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including a guest worker program, but they could not agree on a proposal to build a 300-mile fence along the border.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors declined to back a resolution opposing the fence, which would be built along the Rio Grande river in Texas.

Critics said the fence would harm relations between the U.S. and Mexico.

Virginia Beach, Va., Mayor Meyera Oberndorf said the fence would be "un-American."

"We've always had open borders between Mexico and Canada, and we think that's just where it ought to stay," Oberndorf said at the group's meeting in Las Vegas.

The U.S. Senate last month passed a wide-ranging bill that would create the fence while giving illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria a chance to become citizens. Earlier, the House passed tougher legislation that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally.

The resolution opposing the fence was submitted by Laredo, Texas, Mayor Elizabeth Flores, Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz and Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Martin Chavez.

It urged the Senate to "ask itself if the expense and symbolism of such a proposed fence can possibly be worth the misunderstandings it will create between the United States and Mexico."

Several mayors from border-state cities spoke against the resolution opposing the fence before the group sent it back to a committee.

Sam LaGrone, mayor of Roswell, N.M., said more needs to be done to stop the flow of drugs such as methamphetamine.

"The amount of meth that is coming across our borders is absolutely ruining so many families in our border states," LaGrone said. "This is an issue that definitely in my opinion should be left to the Border Patrol."