December 21, 2001

Migrant agreement signed amid budget cuts

By Stevenson Jacobs
The News (Mexico City)

December 18, 2001 -- The Foreign Relations Secretariat and the human rights commission of the state of Oaxaca on Monday agreed to work together to protect the states' migrants working in the United States.

The agreement, signed by Foreign Relations Undersecre-tary for Human Rights Mari-claire Acosta and Oaxaca Human Rights Commission President Sergio Segreste, calls on both offices to coordinate their efforts in promoting migrants' rights in U.S. communities.

Under the agreement, the Oaxaca Human Rights Commission also will publicize to its citizens the services available to migrants at Mexican consulates in the United States.

The agreement comes even as federal lawmakers are considering slashing 85 percent of the federal budget designated for U.S.-based migrant programs.

Mario Riestra, national director of state offices for the attention of migrants, on Monday told a Mexico City newspaper such cuts would deal a heavy blow to U.S. migrant communities, perhaps even eliminating medical coverage for thousands of migrants.

Riestra called on lawmakers to modify the proposal, and said he hoped President Vicente Fox's office for migrants abroad would be spared too. There has been talk in the media here that the office, led by Dr. Juan Hernandez, may become another victim of ongoing federal belt-tightening.

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