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Mending Fences South of the Border

IDENTITY PROBLEMS. Instead, he says the "fallout" may be felt in Washington. "Big-ticket items may be more difficult to get through the U.S. Congress," Garza says. That includes expansion of a guest-worker program that would benefit Mexican immigrants, which he says has little chance of being discussed this year.

Some Capitol Hill lawmakers have raised the issue of reining in the 1.35 million identity cards issued by Mexican consulates to their expatriate citizens in the U.S. since the end of 2001. Designed to provide illegal immigrants with some valid proof of identity after September 11, they're now accepted by a few U.S. banks for opening savings accounts. And several states have agreed to issue driver's licenses to Mexicans who present the consular I.D. as proof of identity. But congressional critics complain that the policy has been too loose, heightening homeland-security concerns.

Clearly, Bush and Fox both raised expectations of a superclose U.S.-Mexican relationship way too high from the get-go. But who could have envisioned that an event as dramatic as September 11 would so quickly derail the American President's embrace of a next-door neighbor that had been held at arm's length since the U.S. was founded? "I don't know if we'll get back to where we were on September 6, 2001," Garza says now. "Expectations may have been a little unrealistic."

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