Mexico plans to use cards with electronic chips to better track the movements of Central Americans who regularly cross the southern border to work or visit.

Starting in March, the National Immigration Institute will distribute the cards to record the arrival and departure of so-called temporary workers and visitors. They will replace a non-electronic pass formerly given to foriegners who cross into Mexico, which has proven "easily alterable and subject to the discretion of migration agents," the institute said Thursday.

The U.S. government has spent tens of millions of dollars issuing similar visa cards digitally embedded with the holder's photo and fingerprints, but U.S. border inspectors almost never check them, and vehicle lanes are not equipped with the necessary scanners to read them, The Associated Press reported earlier this year.

Mexico detained more than 182,000 undocumented migrants in 2006, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador en route to the United States. But many others cross legally from Guatemala and Belize to work or visit, and the new cards are meant to guarantee their security, the institute said.