MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican government suspended until further notice a new program requiring drivers of U.S.-registered vehicles entering Mexico to leave a deposit of up to $800.

Prompted by opposition to the measure from both sides of the border, Mexico President Ernesto Zedillo ordered the suspension of the initiative one day after it was implemented Dec. 1, according to the Interior Ministry of Mexico. Officials plan to carefully analyze the program in the coming weeks to make modifications, the Interior Ministry said.

The measure, designed to prevent the illegal importation of U.S. vehicles, has come under fire from U.S. groups and politicians, as well as the Mexican Senate.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who wrote an opposition letter to the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., Jesus F. Reyes-Heroles, is against the policy because it will negatively impact U.S. citizens traveling by car into Mexico for business or leisure, and it is not in the spirit of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce sided with the governor at a press conference attended by TAMACC officials and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), among others. "We think it is going to have adverse effects on U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico; it is bad for business relations between the two countries, and there is a possibility for credit card fraud," said Ray Leal, president and chief executive officer of the group. Rep. Doggett voiced concern that the plan was ill-advised.

The new policy required drivers traveling beyond a border zone to post a refundable deposit of between $400 and $800 (depending on the year of the car) by credit card or cash.


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