MEXICO CITY - Mexico's foreign secretary Monday leveled his country's sharpest criticism yet of a U.S. plan to build a fence along its southern border, condemning the plan as "stupid" and "underhanded."
In a radio interview, Luis Ernesto Derbez accused U.S. congressmen who approved the bill of bowing to political pressure of "xenophobic" extremists while turning a blind eye to the contributions millions of migrants from Mexico and elsewhere make to America's economy and culture. "It's a law that looks underhanded to everybody ... stupid," Derbez said, adding that the notion of building a border wall was "silliness."
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 239-182 in favor of an immigration enforcement bill, which includes a proposal to build 700 miles of fence through parts of Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico.
Under the measure, soldiers and police would help stop people sneaking across, and employers would have to check the legal status of their workers.
Derbez said he was confident the bill would not make it past the U.S. Senate, which he said was not as easily swayed by ever-changing political opinion as the House.
Also on Monday, Derbez's office said in a statement that it had hired a public relations firm charged with improving Mexico's image in the eyes of the American public.
Reacting Sunday to the bill's approval, Mexican President Vicente Fox said "this wall is shameful," and called the plan hypocritical for a country made up of immigrants.
"When we look at their roots, the immense majority are migrants, migrants that have arrived from all over the world," Fox said Sunday.