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.

          Wire services

          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
     Hispanic politicians.

          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
     business representatives.

          "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
     involved in.

          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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