Vicente Fox's Austin Visit- "We know that they are not Terrorists"

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 9 13:29:31 MST 2003


Fox also visited New Mexico, and in Arizona where he was met by Right Wing
demonstrators protesting Mexican undocumented workers.    Tony
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In talks with Mexico leader, Perry reiterates opposition to ID cards
Friday, November 7, 2003
By ALFREDO CORCHADO / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Mexican President Vicente Fox ended a three-day U.S. trip in the
Texas capital Thursday and urged the state government to recognize
Mexican-issued ID cards as a way to protect his countrymen.
His host, Gov. Rick Perry, who said the visit was "about renewing old
friendships," reiterated his opposition to the cards, saying they are
unreliable and undermine U.S. security. But he left open the possibility
that both sides could agree on a "mutual solution."   "We haven't found the
solution yet. I can assure you" we will continue to seek one, Mr. Perry said
after two private meetings with Mr. Fox.

New Mexico and Arizona, also visited by Mr. Fox this week, have endorsed the
ID card, known as the matricula consular. Mr. Fox, asked to compare his
Texas visit with those to the other two states, responded, "In Mexico, we
say all comparisons are irritable." He did not elaborate.      Referring to
Mr. Perry's assurance that he is open to a solution, Mr. Fox said, "That's
good enough for us."

  Gov. Rick Perry and President Vicente Fox demonstrated that their visit
was "about renewing old friendships" and coming to mutual solutions.    In
an interview with editors from Texas newspapers, including The Dallas
Morning News and Al Dìa, Mr. Fox described his U.S. visit as achieving "good
results" in three areas: establishing a bilateral dialogue with Arizona, New
Mexico and Texas, speaking directly with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in
the United States, and receiving commitments to guarantee the human rights
of Mexicans in the United States.     He said the visit made it clear "for
the need to build up a framework for an orderly legal, efficient and
convenient flow of migration."

As expected by some Mexican officials traveling with Mr. Fox, Austin proved
to be the most difficult stop of the three-state journey. Unlike his stops
in Phoenix and Santa Fe, where Mr. Fox seemed jovial and relaxed, his time
in Texas was punctuated by repeated questions about Mr. Perry's refusal to
recognize the ID cards.       Behind closed doors, aides said, talks were
blunt but constructive.     "Let's not kid ourselves," said a Mexican
official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We knew coming here that
Texas would represent the toughest battle, and the president is waging a
good battle on behalf of his countrymen."   Mr. Perry's spokeswoman, Kathy
Walt, described the talks as "open, frank, friendly and hopeful."

Mr. Fox has pushed for recognition of the ID cards as a protection from
crime for immigrants, who often must carry large amounts of cash because of
their inability to open bank accounts.   In Austin, the Mexican government
bestowed awards of appreciation to Wells Fargo Bank and the Austin Police
Department, both of which spearheaded acceptance of the matricula.   As he
did in Arizona and New Mexico, Mr. Fox said he was in Austin to ask Texans
to "respect our people, to respect their human rights, and to give them a
hand in their difficult journey."     Referring to his countrymen, Mr. Fox
said, "We know they're not terrorists. We know they're honest, hard-working
people."

Texas and Mexico have lately had their relations tested by issues including
Mexico's 1.4 million acre-feet of water debt, the execution in Texas of a
Mexican citizen, and Mr. Perry's refusal to recognize matriculas as an
authentic ID. Several banks, law enforcement agencies and local and state
governments across the country have embraced the cards as an acceptable
identification tool.
Both sides, however, tried to play down their differences and focus on what
was described as a "future with so much potential."    Mr. Fox has said that
Texas represents the most vital state in helping reduce Mexican poverty
through trade and investment. Yet he had not visited the state since August
2000, weeks after being elected to replace the long-ruling Institutional
Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the presidential palace, Los Pinos.

Texas remains the top state exporter to Mexico, with $42 billion worth of
goods and services going to Mexico so far this year, compared with $2.8
billion for Arizona and $117 million for New Mexico. Commercial truck
traffic between Texas and Mexico in 2002 totaled 2.7 million vehicles in the
top four crossing points – Laredo, El Paso, Pharr and Brownsville.     About
5 million people of Mexican origin, or 24 percent of the state's population,
live in Texas, compared with 1 million, about 20 percent of the population,
in Arizona, and 330,000, or 18 percent, in New Mexico.

As he did in Arizona and New Mexico, Mr. Fox said that border states should
work with Mexico on economic development to produce jobs and compete with
Asian countries like China, which have lured thousands of jobs away.
"Today we must build our own vision, build our own future," Mr. Fox said,
referring to the border states. "We're together. We're neighbors. We're
partners."       The two sides also discussed issues of border health,
education, and future border infrastructure projects, including a planned
$45 million medical school in El Paso, the first along the Texas and Mexico
border.

The water debt and the execution of Javier Suárez Medina, who was convicted
of murdering an undercover Dallas police officer, led Mr. Fox to twice
cancel scheduled trips to the state last year.
While Mr. Fox pressed the issue of legalizing and protecting millions of
Mexicans, Mr. Perry reiterated Texas' demand that Mexico pay back the water
debt, the result of a 1944 treaty, that was accumulated before Mr. Fox took
office.

"I simply would ask," Mr. Perry said, "that our friends from Mexico also
produce a schedule of future releases that will ensure full treaty
compliance. ... Such an act of good faith will not only resolve the
long-standing dispute, but will benefit the very industry that many Mexican
migrant workers depend upon to make a living – the farming industry."
During their private meeting, Mr. Fox talked about repaying the water debt
through Mexico's conservation measures, to which Mr. Perry responded, "That
will take a very long time" to pay off, according to Ms. Walt.    The two
sides agreed to have meetings on the water issue in December. Mr. Perry also
accepted an invitation to travel to Mexico City as early as next year and to
join other border governors from both countries to discuss issues further.
   Mr. Fox said that Mr. Perry would promote extending a current 72-hour
temporary U.S. visa for visiting Mexicans into a six-month visa.

Mr. Fox ended his trip with a speech at the University of Texas attended by
many Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans. He promised that many of them
would be able to vote from abroad in Mexico's 2006 presidential election.
  You will be able to guide the direction of the country," he said amid
cheers.

Al Dìa editor Gilbert Bailon contributed to this report.

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