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Political Party Calls for Juarez Residents To Boycott El Paso Businesses

July 31, 1987

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) _ Mexico’s ruling political party urged Mexicans Thursday to stay at home and boycott El Paso businesses for three days to protest a new crackdown by U.S. immigration authorities.

About 100 Institutional Revolutionary Party members gathered at the Santa Fe bridge Thursday morning, giving out handbills and talking to Mexicans preparing to cross over to El Paso, Texas, Juarez’ sister city.

The handbills, addressed to citizens of Juarez, said in part: ″The commerce of El Paso, Texas, depends on the Juarenses who cross the bridge... Don’t cross the bridge unless it’s absolutely indispensable 3/8″

The party members were protesting the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s new crackdown on Mexicans who abuse temporary border crossing cards.

The cards allow Mexicans into the United States for up to three days to shop, visit friends and relatives and take care of personal business. They do not authorize employment in the United States, but INS officials suspect many people use the cards for that purpose.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, known in Mexico by the initials PRI, called its protest ″Operation Dignity.″ PRI spokesman Alfredo Urias said the immigration service is humiliating Mexicans by targeting the poor.

″We don’t like to hurt business, but sometimes you have to show that you’re against what the immigration service is doing,″ he said.

The INS move also triggered a protest by human rights and labor groups in Juarez. About 25 people from various groups demonstrated in front of the U.S. consulate to protest the renewed enforcement.

They also called for an investigation into the shootings of two men on the U.S. side of the border. The men have said that their assailants identified themselves as FBI agents. Federal authorities have denied the charges, and the consul did not speak with the protesters.

Owners of El Paso stores near the bridges expressed anger with the tougher border enforcement. ″Business is terrible,″ Nam Kim, owner of a grocery store, told the El Paso Times.

Guadalupe Gonzalez, counsel for the INS district, said the new crackdown began because the INS’ El Paso district just got some new agents.

She said critics of the new immigration law are confused by its different provisions. The law provides amnesty for some undocumented workers who have lived in the United States for a long time and allows some migrant workers to cross the border.

The law calls for sanctions against those who employ undocumented workers and increases the number of INS and Border Patrol agents.