A comic-book-style "Guide for the Mexican Migrant" being distributed by the government bears a bright-yellow disclaimer at the end of its 36 pages. It reads, in part: "This consular..."

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MEXICO CITY — A comic-book-style “Guide for the Mexican Migrant” being distributed by the government bears a bright-yellow disclaimer at the end of its 36 pages.

It reads, in part: “This consular protection guide does not promote the crossing of Mexicans without the legal documentation required by the United States; its objective is to inform about the risks involved.”

But advocates of tougher U.S. immigration policies, who already feel abandoned by the Bush administration, aren’t buying it.

“It’s kind of like illegal immigration for dummies,” said the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, Mark Krikorian. “Promoting safe illegal immigration is not the same as arguing against it.”

The government, which has inserted about 1.5 million of the booklets into the popular cowboy comic Vaquero, defended the guide as an attempt to save lives.

The booklet, like traditional Mexican comics, is small enough to fit in a person’s back pocket.

Using color drawings and simple text, the booklets warn migrants of the dangers of crossing in desert and mountain areas. They include basic dos and don’ts, such as adding salt to water to avoid dehydration and never to resist arrest or carry drugs.

“Last year, for example, there were over 300 Mexicans who died in their attempt to cross the border,” said Geronimo Gutierrez, deputy minister for North America at Mexico’s Foreign Ministry. “The Mexican government has the obligation to take all actions possible to avoid the loss of life.”

Once in the United States, the booklet recommends: “Don’t call attention to yourself. … Avoid loud parties. … Don’t become involved in fights.”

In Washington, a State Department official did not comment directly on the guide but said, “Both the U.S. and Mexican governments have ongoing commitments to ensuring immigration to the United States is safe, orderly and legal. We work closely with the Mexican government to alert Mexicans to the dangers of illegal migration, and that cooperation has reduced migrant deaths due to illegal crossings.”

President Bush has proposed a guest worker program that would offer the nation’s estimated 10 million illegal immigrants a chance to earn legal status that would allow them to stay in the country for six years. Once they register as temporary workers, they would be eligible to begin the long process of applying for citizenship or permanent residency.

Bush describes his immigration proposal as a top goal of his second term, calling it a humane way to get a handle on the nation’s mushrooming illegal immigration problem. Republican strategists also see the proposal as an important element in their plan to expand the party’s base among the fast-growing Hispanic population.

But many House Republicans oppose any effort to grant legal status to undocumented workers, saying it would have the effect of rewarding law-breakers. Instead, they are seeking to ratchet up enforcement efforts against undocumented workers.

Key House Republicans are promising to push legislation to complete a controversial fence along the Mexican border near San Diego, to make it tougher for immigrants to attain asylum and to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses.

Background on immigration legislative proposals from The Washington Post.