MERIDA, Mexico -- President Bush wrapped up his Latin America tour yesterday with a pledge to Mexican President Felipe Calderon that he would seek an accord that occupies the middle ground between amnesty for illegal residents and booting out more than 12 million people.
"Amnesty is not going to fly. There is not going to be automatic citizenship; it just won't work," Bush said. "People in the United States don't support that, and neither do I. Nor will kicking people out of the United States work. It's not practical."
Bush said he was optimistic about persuading congressional Republicans that resolving the status of millions of undocumented workers, mostly Mexican, would be in the best interests of U.S. security.
Ending hundreds of thousands of illegal crossings by job-seekers each year would free authorities to concentrate on those smuggling drugs and guns, Bush said.
During a joint news conference, Calderon confirmed that he has relatives working in vegetable fields in the United States, adding, "They probably handle what you eat." But he said he didn't know their legal status.
Calderon narrowly won election with promises of drawing investment and creating jobs that would keep Mexicans home.
Sam Enriquez and Patrick J. McDonnell write for the Los Angeles Times.