President George W. Bush said Thursday it makes sense to put up fencing along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border but not to block off the entire 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) length to keep out illegal immigrants.
During a visit to one of the busiest crossing sectors, Bush did not declare his support for either of two competing proposals in Congress one approved by the House that would build 700 miles (1,125 kilometers) of fencing and one in the Senate that would build half that. Instead, he said the Border Patrol should guide the decisions.
"Right here we're at a place where we're using fencing," Bush told Fox News in an interview with a Border Patrol truck and fencing in the background.
"And it makes sense to use fencing here. It doesn't make sense to use fencing in other parts of the border. And the best people to help us design the program are those who are in charge of enforcing the border," reports AP.
According to Reuters, the U.S. Senate blocked an effort on Thursday to limit Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants who would become permanent residents under a sweeping immigration overhaul being debated by lawmakers.
The Senate immigration bill would give millions of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country a path to citizenship as long as they pay a fine and back taxes and meet such requirements as learning English.
President George W. Bush backs a comprehensive approach close to what the Senate is considering and traveled to Yuma, Arizona, a front line for illegal crossings from Mexico, to shore up support for his plan to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the border.
Bush on Thursday formally requested congressional approval for $1.9 billion in emergency funding for his border security initiative.
President Vicente Fox's spokesman said the building of walls would not solve the immigration problem or help relations between the two nations.
Wednesday's bill is part of immigration reforms being discussed by senators, who have backed a plan to allow illegal migrants a chance at citizenship.
They voted by 83-16 to approve the construction of 370 miles (595 km) of triple-layered fencing at strategic points of the southern border.
"Walls will not solve the migration problem... nor [provide] security to the region," Mexico's presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar told a news conference, informs BBC News.