The News México City, April 4, 1997

The News Staff Reporter

President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon pledged Thursday to use all the diplomatic and legal force at his government's disposal to protect Mexicans living in the United States, joining a growing tide of sentiment against a controversial U.S. anti-immigration law. Presidents from all three major political parties, a phalanx of federal legislators and Foreign Relations Secretary Jose Angel Gurria Treviño have independently criticized the law, which went into effect this week and is designed to greater police U.S. borders and deport any illegal aliens. Criticism has centered around fear that the law, which many have classified as the strictest in U.S. immigration history, will create a climate of suspicion and legal residents of Mexican origin will suffer.

"We will not tolerate foreign forces dictating and enacting laws on Mexicans," said Zedillo in a speech Thursday in Campeche. Congressional legislators and high-ranking Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) members have threatened to appeal the law in an international forum, and several formal communiques have been sent to the different branches of the U.S. government. Zedillo warned that any human rights abuses against "our brothers" living abroad will be answered with the "full force of all the legal instruments at our disposal."

By increasing the number of border patrol agents and strengthening barriers along the border, the U.S. law opens the door for abuse of power on the local level, critics charge, and several independent U.S. organizations (including the American Civil Liberties Union) have lodged appeals against it.

Facing this growing national and international dissention, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno addressed criticism Thursday in Washington. She denied that the law will result in mass deportations or blanket decisions against large numbers of immigrants (two of the negative predictions of Mexican legislators), and Reno assured that application of the law will be consistent with "principles of due process and fair play," the news agency Reuters reported.

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