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La Liga de Las Americas

Fox launches holiday program for returning migrants

MEXICO CITY (AP): Mexican President Vicente Fox inaugurated this year’s “Paisano” program on Wednesday to protect migrants and other Mexicans returning to their homeland from the United States for their holidays.

Fox promised to set up a hotline so that migrants who face abuse or discrimination from Mexican officials can call directly to the President’s office to make their complaints heard.

Because migrants often return for the holidays bearing gifts, cash and new cars, they were often the target of extortion or robbery, sometimes involving police or other officials. The Paisano program, started in 1989, is intended to prevent such abuse and ensure a warm welcome for returning countrymen.

“Woe to any public servant at any level who we catch treating returning paisanos badly,” Fox told a meeting of representatives of Mexicans abroad at the Mexico City international airport, where many arriving migrants arrive.

Fox said he would personally oversee the program.

“The president will be traveling constantly from now through the end of the (holiday) season, without announcing the date or place of visits, to ensure that all public servants are fulfilling their duties,” Fox said.

The program will also use undercover inspectors to ensure nobody is shaken down for bribes at airports or border gates.

During the program, which runs through January, about 1,300 volunteers will staff 113 posts around the country to help guide and orient returning migrants.





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