Saturday, May 27, 2006
Fox Speaks To Utah Legislature About 'Migration'
Fox addresses issues in speech to legislature
By ROSA MARIA MARTINEZ
SALT LAKE CITY - The state House and Senate met in joint session Wednesday morning in the Capitol to hear from the president of México, Vicente Fox.
Outside the legislative building, the Minutemen border watch arrived early in the morning to protest Fox's visit with signs and posters.
Fox did not shy away from addressing concerns about illegal immigration by saying, "Let us talk frankly about our most pressing challenge and our most promising opportunity: migration."
He stressed the importance of this moment and how complex this issue is for the two nations.
"My administration has promoted the establishment of a new system that regulates the movement of people across our border in a manner that is legal, safe and orderly," he said. "We have pursued this course with the firm conviction that a legal, orderly migration policy, with full respect for human rights and dignity, will benefit the security and prosperity of both of our nations."
Fox summarized the most important aspects of a resolution adopted by the Congress of Mexico in February of this year, saying that Mexico does not promote or support undocumented migration.
"Mexico must continue to expand jobs, economic growth and social opportunities so migration is no longer a necessity but a decision," he said.
Fox also said that Mexico acknowledges the sovereign right of each country to enforce its laws and protect its borders, but considers that among friends and neighbors, a bilateral dialogue and cooperation are the key components for the successful management of migration.
Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, said "there were a lot of concerns among people that this was going to be just a political visit, a kind of brush over the issues, but what we saw here today is a message that says 'It is time to work on it, there are solutions and we need to work together.'"
Harper believes Fox's visit was a good move because with this he is saying that "your issues in the United States are our issues in Mexico and we need to work on it together, it cannot be only one side, it has to be the people in both countries coming together and working together."
Fox arrived in the legislative room bringing the warmest greetings from all Mexicans.
"Let this historic occasion mark our joint commitment to making this relationship one in which we seek understanding while respecting our differences," he said.
He started his message talking about how far his country has come in the six last years.
"Today, Mexico is a free country," he said, "with clear separation of power among branches of government, with respect for the rule of law, freedom of religion and freedom of speech."
Fox also said that over the past five years the promotion of human rights has been a centerpiece of government policy.
"This policy upholds a human rights culture in Mexico's society and aims at prosecuting all cases of human rights abuse by government authorities," he said.
Fox also told the audience that Mexico has opened up to international scrutiny and that during his administration the country, for the first time, called for the establishment of an office of the Commission on Human Rights. As a result, Mexico was elected to preside over the new United Nations Human Rights Council last week.
Fox mentioned that until recent years Mexico was trapped in a vicious cycle of economic crisis, but his government has set out to change that and today México has the safest, most stable economy in the country's life, thanks to a responsible management of public finances that have achieved an inflation of only 3.3 per cent - the lowest in 37 years.
"Our economy is growing at a healthy rate of 5.3 per cent," he said.
Fox also said that over the last six years spending on education has increased over 70 per cent.
"We have put more than a billion books in Mexican classrooms and today one of every five students enrolled in our public system receives a scholarship to continue their studies," he said.
Regarding housing, Fox said that in 2005 alone, 750,000 houses were built for the same number of families and in less than six years there will be more than 3 million families with access to a decent home.
In respect to business and trade Fox said "Our mission here today is to promote investment and business that will create jobs in Mexico and right here in Utah." Free trade and investment agreements with over 40 countries makes Mexico one of the world's most open economies, trading over $435 billion a year.
Also, according to Fox, over the past five years Mexico has received over $87 billion in direct foreign investment, most of which comes from the United States and Canada. At the same time, Mexico is the second-largest trading partner of the United States, buying more products from this country than Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom combined.
During his speech Fox also insisted on the importance of deepening trade and investment ties with Mexico as well as education and cultural exchange programs by creating the Utah-Mexico Partnership Working Group.
Originally published May 25, 2006
Rosa M. Martinez / Daily News
Members of the Minuteman border watch group protest on Wednesday during the visit of Mexican President Vicente Fox near the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.