VALLE DE BRAVO, Mexico – U.S. and Mexican lawmakers discussed migration, security and trade on Friday, with U.S. legislators calling on Mexico to do its part to help stem undocumented border crossing.
Members of the U.S. delegation said they were heartened by statements by their Mexican counterparts that both nations share responsibility in migration and border security, issues that have caused tension in bilateral relations in recent months.
"I think it represents a very positive step in the right direction because many Americans have felt that the Mexican government was essentially complicit in illegal immigration," said Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican from Texas who was co-leading the U.S. delegation of two senators and 11 congressional representatives.
Mexico has been lobbying the U.S. Congress since 2000 for a migration accord that would legalize the millions of undocumented Mexican workers living in the United States.
Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., said a future migration deal would require Mexico to help the United States police the border.
"And that means they have to help make sure the drug smuggling is stopped," Kolbe said. "That they stop them from crossing illegally into the United States and direct them to legal crossing points."
One of the prickly topics at the annual meeting was a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December allowing construction of a 700-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Mexican President Vicente Fox has called the proposed wall "stupid," a sentiment echoed by some of the Mexican representatives attending Friday's talks at this lakeside resort in central Mexico.
"We think it is stupid. We're completely opposed to it," Marcela Gonzales, president of the Mexican lower house, said on the sidelines of the meetings.
Tension also grew late last year when U.S. officials criticized Mexico for failing to control violence on the Mexican side of the border.
And many Mexicans were outraged last month when a major U.S.-owned hotel evicted a group of Cuban officials, saying it was complying with the U.S. embargo of the communist-ruled island.
Despite the conflicts, lawmakers from both sides were upbeat about their encounter Friday.
"This meeting represents a unique opportunity for us to work together to find common ground," Kolbe said.
The talks alongside a pine-rimmed lake 90 miles west of Mexico City were the 45th annual meeting between U.S. and Mexican legislators.