Mexico’s ex-president advocates law reform
Oklahoma and other states have launched immigration legislation because Congress has failed to act, former Mexico President Vicente Fox said Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
Fox, speaking at the Civic Center Music Hall, said the United States must develop a sensible national immigration policy.
“At the very end, it’s a federal issue so in the end it should be satisfied by the federal government, by the U.S. Congress,” Fox said. “Immigration is an asset to every nation. It’s an asset to the United States, no doubt. What we need to do is take advantage of that asset by bringing order to it, and by bringing legality to it.”
Oklahoma lawmakers last year adopted HB 1804, which has been called the toughest immigration statute in the nation.
Fox, 65, president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, spoke at an Executive Management Briefing sponsored by Oklahoma State University’s William S. Spears School of Business. Fox, before his political career, was head of Coca-Cola Latin America.
Fox said he favors a plan similar to a bill authored by Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy in 2005 that would have provided a path to legal citizenship for many of the millions of illegal immigrants in the United States. The bill, which never came to a floor vote, also would have provided funding for increased border security.
A reasonable temporary guest worker program would solve many problems by providing documented foreign workers who need good wages for the American economy, Fox said. Fox said most Mexican immigrants don’t want to become American citizens; they want to help their family and then return to their homeland.
“They like better tacos, tortillas and chilies than hot dogs or hamburgers,” he said.
The United States should join its economic might with its neighbors, Mexico and Canada, to meet the challenges of the world marketplace, Fox said.
“This century will be the century of Latin America,” said Fox, who noted that Mexico’s economy is forecast to be the world’s fifth-largest by 2040.
About a dozen protesters from Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise demonstrated outside the Civic Center to voice their opposition to a closer economic relationship between the United States and Mexico.
“I don’t want a North American union established,” protester Robert Forrester said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Fox, whose American-born grandfather emigrated from Ohio to Mexico to find his “American dream,” said only dictatorial governments build structures to keep people in or out such as the wall that has been proposed to control illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’m totally opposed to building a wall. That’s the worst of the answers to a problem that has to be dealt with among different nations,” Fox said. “The threat to the United States is not immigration. … The threat to the United States is isolation by building a wall.”
Fox suggested support for building a wall to stop illegal immigration might arise from “understandable” fears born in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“I am not for disorder. I am not for walls,” he said. “I am for wisdom.”
In response to questions from the audience of about 500, Fox prompted applause when he said that the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq “as soon as possible.” Fox opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Fox, an admitted fan of President Bush, said the next U.S. president will have to rebuild relationships among nations.
“The United States has lost, I’m sorry to say, a lot of respect,” he said.
He also drew laughter and applause when, responding to a hypothetical question about northern Mexico states possibly joining the United States, he suggested that his country instead might re-annex Texas.