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Why Mexico welcomes Obama's plan to send 1,200 US troops to border

Departing from its complaints about the Arizona immigration law, Mexico cautiously welcomes President Barack Obama's plan to send 1,200 troops to the border.

By Nacha CattanContributor / May 26, 2010

The international border in Nogales, Ariz, shown in this April 22 photo. President Barack Obama will send 1,200 National Guard troops to help secure the US-Mexico border.

Matt York/AP

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Mexico City

The Mexican government all but praised President Barack Obama's decision to send 1,200 troops to the border, in a departure from the usual complaints about the US immigration enforcement policies.

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Unlike President Felipe Calderon’s fiery opposition to Arizona’s immigration law or his calls for a new immigration policy, Mexico’s official reaction to the deployment of US National Guardsmen near the border has been measured, even as the public response has been mixed.

The troops will “strengthen efforts to combat transnational organized crime," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement, which predicted the guardsmen will not be involved in immigration enforcement. The ministry also wrote of a “shared responsibility” in fighting drug traffickers and called for additional resources to prevent arms and cash smuggling into Mexico.

IN PICTURES: The US/Mexico border

Some Mexicans said they respected the United States’ right to send armed forces to protect its citizens. Mexico, after all, is battling drug cartels on this side of the border. Others saw it as a ruse to target undocumented migrants:

“This is not just about catching drug traffickers. They are out to get illegal immigrants and the narcos are just an excuse,” said Carmen Rodriguez, 49, a translator from Mexico City who has family members in Boston. “There will be more violence at the border.”

Obama administration officials said the troops won’t conduct searches for illegal immigrants, but will gather intelligence, work on surveillance support and train local law enforcement. Obama will also ask Congress for $500 million for law-enforcement in the region.

Mexican worries

An editorial in the local newspaper La Cronica de Hoy, said the National Guard deployment coupled with recent news that legislation is moving forward in 14 US states to crack down on illegal immigrants is "more than worrying."

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