WS>>Fox to talk migration in U.S. visit
carl william spitzer iv
cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Thu Nov 13 19:01:12 MST 2003
President also expected to discuss Mexico's water debt.
As he prepares to visit the U.S. Southwest next week,
President Vicente Fox said he is keenly interested in three
U.S. congressional proposals that would either offer amnesty
to undocumented farm workers or set up a guest-worker pro-
gram with more visas.
"From what we know of the initiatives in the Congress,
they seem very interesting," Fox said in an interview with
Cox Newspapers on Friday at Los Pinos.
"For us, of course, it is worthwhile to keep on top of
their progress and development, and to contact and have
dialogues with the congressional representatives who have
presented these initiatives. Some of them are bipartisan,
which seems to give them more value," said Fox, who will
travel Tuesday through Thursday to Phoenix, Santa Fe, N.M.,
and Austin, Texas.
"I think this could be an avenue to progress on migra-
tion," Fox said of the proposals. "We welcome them, we are
analyzing them with interest, and we will follow them."
After Fox assumed the presidency in December 2000, he
broke with tradition and tried to make pursuit of a migra-
tion accord with the United States a centerpiece of his
government. President Bush had initially expressed great
enthusiasm, but the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the
U.S. economic downturn torpedoed progress.
Now, immigration reform bills introduced this year in
the Congress and a brief but friendly meeting between Fox
and Bush last month in Bangkok appear to have opened a
narrow window for bringing about limited reforms.
"It's a return to the theme, with the clear understand-
ing on the part of two presidents that we do not want to
stir more expectations that this should," Fox said.
The congressional proposals include a bill introduced
in July by Sen. John Cornyn, RTexas, that would offer guest-
worker visas with limited time periods to undocumented
workers already in the United States. Another version of a
guest-worker program bill was proposed by Sen. John McCain,
Senators Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Bob Graham, D-Fla.,
and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, are backing a proposed amnesty
that could affect as many as 500,000 undocumented farm
After visits with Arizona Gov. Jane Napolitano and New
Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, both Democrats, Fox arrives in
Austin on Wednesday and dines with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a
Republican. Guests at the dinner include Texas mayors and
Fox was scheduled to meet Perry in Texas in August
2002, but he canceled the journey to protest the execution
of a Mexican national convicted of murder. Mexico opposes
the death penalty and has argued that some Mexican nationals
facing it are often deprived of international rights after
their arrests and during U.S. trials.
While in Austin, Fox on Thursday will spotlight the
controversial "matricula consular" identification cards that
Mexico issues to all immigrants, legal and illegal, in the
United States. Fox will present a Mexican government award
of appreciation to Austin Police Chief Rudy Landeros and a
Wells Fargo Bank representative, Rick Burciaga, for being
the first police and banking officials in the United States
to accept the matriculas as valid identification.
A rash of robberies of Mexican immigrants carrying cash
in Austin prompted police and bankers to cooperate on a
project to persuade immigrants to open bank accounts. Wells
Fargo has seen an explosion in the number of bank accounts
immigrants are opening since it began accepting the matricu-
Dozens of state and local police departments, govern-
ment offices and banks across the country have decided to
accept the cards. But a movement in opposition to the ma-
tricula has also sprung up, with opponents calling the cards
a potential danger to national security and a step closer to
an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
In Friday's interview, Fox defended the cards.
"Whoever has that matricula consular has it because he
identified himself, proved where he was from his origins. It
is like any other security document that serves institu-
tions," Fox said.
He dismissed accusations that the cards were an attempt
to gain U.S. legal residency.
The card "is not a substitute for official documents,"
he said. "It does not offer additional benefits within
American society. It simply identifies who is carrying it.
And that has value."
While in Texas, Fox also expects to talk to Perry about
border security, commerce and Mexico's water debt to the
United States, which affects Texas farmers. Mexico has
failed to release sufficient amounts of water from its dams
into the Rio Grande River for several years, U.S. officials
In all three states, Fox expects to also meet with
"Because it's Austin," Fox said, "we want to see high-
tech business people in electronics and other areas, includ-
ing oil and manufacturing."
He said that "mutually beneficial investments'' will
help Mexico and the United States, as members of the North
American trading bloc, help confront competition from other
trading blocs in Asia, including those China is becoming
In all three states, Fox is expected to meet with large
groups of Mexican immigrant representatives.
One of the largest of those meetings will take place at
the University of Texas in Austin, where Fox aides say he's
expected to make an important speech.
Fox's trip to the American Southwest gives him a stage
to drum up support for migration reforms in a region with
strong ties to Mexico in business and culture.
Fox said the regional trip "is about maintaining the
dialogue, about being close to our countrymen, and about
exchanging reflections on this (migration) theme with the
governors, political leaders, all with the understanding
that this is a federal matter. But the relationship is so
intense on the border, and migration, especially, is an
indispensable theme for discussion."
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