Miguel Angel Paredes, the spokesman for the federal Human Rights Commission, said the decision wasn't because of US complaints, but because human rights officials in border states expressed concern that the maps would show anti-immigrant groups where migrants were likely to gather.

On Wednesday, Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary said the United States opposes "in the strongest terms" the plans to distribute the maps.

The National Human Rights Commission, a Mexican government-funded agency with independent powers, originally said it would distribute at least 70,000 maps showing highways, rescue beacons and water tanks in the Arizona desert.

"[Handing out maps would entice more people to cross, leading to more migrant deaths and the further enrichment of the criminal human trafficking rings"

Michael Chertoff, US Homeland Security Secretary

"It is a bad idea to encourage migrants to undertake this highly dangerous and ultimately futile effort," Chertoff said.

"This effort will entice more people to cross, leading to more migrant deaths and the further enrichment of the criminal human trafficking rings that prey on the suffering of others."

The Mexican human rights panel denied the maps would encourage illegal immigration. Instead, it argued that the maps would help guide those in trouble to find rescue beacons and areas with cell phone reception.