<!--:es-->Immigration is Mexico’s disgrace: leftist candidate<!--:-->

Immigration is Mexico’s disgrace: leftist candidate

MEXICO CITY – Illegal immigration to the United States is “Mexico’s disgrace,” caused by the government’s failure to create enough jobs, the country’s leftist presidential candidate said.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who trails conservative Felipe Calderon in polls ahead of July 2 elections, accused President Vicente Fox’s administration of causing the flight of millions of Mexicans to the north, which prompted President Bush to order National Guard troops to the border.

“They are the ones mostly responsible for what is going on because there is no employment, there are no jobs in Mexico so people need to emigrate,” Lopez Obrador said on his morning television show.”

He said Bush’s plan, announced on Monday night, to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to help secure the Mexican border would not end the flow of illegal aliens.

“It is not the solution. It is not an alternative but it is a disgrace for us Mexicans because of the irresponsible rulers of this country,” the leftist said.

Fox, a conservative, has not lived up to a campaign promise to create 1 million jobs a year and oil-rich Mexico’s economy has grown only slowly in his 5 1/2 years in office, although it is expanding rapidly this year.

Lopez Obrador’s comments echoed those of some U.S. critics who say Mexico should do more to keep its people at home.

But he said Washington also needs to help Mexico economically if it is to stem the illegal immigration which has mushroomed in recent years.

“The relation we should have between nations and governments is a relation marked by cooperation for development. They need to contribute so that there is development in Mexico,” he said.

Some 1.2 million people, most of them Mexicans, were detained trying to cross the border illegally last year. U.S. authorities estimate around half a million successfully made the crossing.

Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City, opposes the free market policies of Fox and his predecessors.

He vows to boost employment and cut poverty by slashing government spending, launching large infrastructure projects and introducing welfare programs for Mexico’s poorest.

But he has lost his lead in opinion polls in recent weeks to Calderon, who portrays Lopez Obrador as a dangerous populist in the same mold of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Calderon criticized the planned National Guard deployment, which he said would increase risks for immigrants and push them further into the hands of people traffickers.

Fox’s government has long pushed for U.S. immigration reforms to allow more Mexicans to work in the United States.