MEXICO CITY Aug 28 Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged
on Tuesday a reopening of the debate on U.S. immigration laws,
which Congress failed to overhaul, saying the United States
needed immigrant workers to keep its economy thriving.
Perry, in Mexico with a Texan trade mission seeking
opportunities in areas like renewable energy, said the federal
government's plan to build a wall along much of the border to
keep out illegal immigrants was "idiocy."
"We need those individuals to continue to grow our
economy," Perry told a briefing with reporters.
"If you show up illegally, without your card or you're here
as a criminal element, I'm for throwing the book at those
folks, but the issue of people who want to legally,
thoughtfully and appropriately come to America to work and help
us build our economy -- we should quickly come up with a
program and an identification card to do that."
Congress failed to pass a comprehensive overhaul of
immigration laws in June despite heavy lobbying by President
George W. Bush.
Following the reform failure, Washington is concentrating
on border enforcement -- building a security fence along the
Mexican border, deporting undocumented immigrants and trying to
prevent companies from hiring illegal migrants.
Perry, a Republican, said it was important to separate
immigration from security issues, which Texas has dealt with on
its stretch of the Mexican border by deploying more guards.
"We know how to deal with border security, and you don't do
it by building a fence," Perry said, ahead of a meeting with
Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
An estimated 11 million Mexicans work in the United States,
around half of them illegally. They sent home a record $23
million to their families in remittances last year, Mexico's
second-biggest source of foreign currency after oil exports.
At least 275 Mexicans died trying to cross the border in
the first six months of this year, as tougher security pushed
undocumented migrants to risk more remote, dangerous routes
into the United States.