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[Congressional Record: February 14, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
PRESIDENTIAL VISIT TO MEXICO
Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate
now proceed to the immediate consideration of S. Con. Res. 13 that I
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the concurrent
resolution by title.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
A concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 13) expressing the
sense of Congress with respect to the upcoming trip of
President George W. Bush to Mexico to meet with newly elected
President Vicente Fox, and with respect to future cooperative
efforts between the United States and Mexico.
There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the
Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, we are facing a unique time in the history
of U.S.-Mexico relations. Mexico's election and inauguration last year
of an opposition candidate as president--Vicente Fox Quesada--has
overturned 71 years of executive branch domination by the Institutional
Revolutionary Party, PRI. And now, with the inauguration of our new
president--George W. Bush--both nations have the unprecedented
opportunity to implement positive changes and create lasting progress
for our entire Western Hemisphere.
Because of Mexico's critical importance to our nation and hemisphere,
it is not at all surprising that President Bush has chosen to travel to
his first official foreign trip as President. It is with that in mind
that I am introducing a resolution today, along with Senators Helms,
Lott, Dodd, McCain, Landrieu, Grassley, Breaux, Chafee, Voinovich, and
Leahy to express our bipartisan interest in America's current
relationship with Mexico and to suggest several issues of particular
importance that President Bush should raise during his upcoming meeting
with President Fox.
Our resolution acknowledges the vital nature of our relationship with
Mexico and calls for policies that promote cooperation, enhance the
security and prosperity of both nations, and enable both countries to
establish mutually agreed-upon goals in at least four areas: one,
economic development and trade; two, the environment; three,
immigration; and, four, law enforcement and counter-drug policy.
In each of these areas, both countries should pursue realistic and
practical steps that will build confidence in our partnership and help
set the stage for future discussions and future progress.
No one can deny the importance of our involvement with Mexico--a
nation with which we share over 2,000 miles of common borders.
Additionally, over 21.4 million Americans living in this country are of
Mexican heritage--that's 67 percent of our total U.S. Latino
population. Indeed, many people and many issues bind our nations
togther. And, it is in both nations' interest to make that bond even
That is why we want to see President Fox succeed. And, he is off to a
good start. For the first time in two decades, economic crisis has not
marred Mexico's transition period in between presidencies. Instead,
President Fox's election has been received as a positive step in
Mexico's maturing economy and has fueled new investment in the country,
raising expectations for better economic opportunities for the Mexican
President Fox's election also has raised expectations here in
Washington for better opportunities to improve U.S.-Mexico bilateral
cooperation on a wide range of issues. An advocate of free trade in the
Americas, President Fox currently recognizes that a strong, steady
economy in Mexico can be the foundation to help solve many of our
shared challenges, such as immigration, environmental quality, violent
crime, and drug trafficking.
Furthermore, thanks to the economic cooperation spearheaded by the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), trade between the United
States and Mexico amounts to $200 billion annually, making our neighbor
to the south our second largest trading partner behind Canada. Over the
last decade, U.S. exports to Mexico have increased by 207 percent. In
1999, alone, the United States exported $86.9 billion to Mexico--that
is more than we exported to France, Germany, and the United Kingdom
combined: $84.1 billion!
Overall progress in our partnership cannot occur, though, absent
continued progress in Mexico's economy. Although Mexico is in its fifth
consecutive year of recovery following the 1994-1995 peso crisis,
improved living standards and economic opportunities have not been felt
nationwide. Lack of jobs and depressed wages are particularly acute in
the interior of the country, even in President Fox's home state of
Guanajuato. As long as enormous disparities in wages and living
conditions exist between the United States and Mexico, our own nation
will not fully realize the potential of Mexico as an export market nor
will we be able to deal adequately with the resulting problems of
illegal immigration, border crime, and drug trafficking.
In keeping with the market-oriented approach we began with NAFTA, the
United States can take a number of constructive steps to continue
economic progress in Mexico and secure its support for a Free Trade
Agreement with the Americas:
First, we can encourage growth and development by devising, for
example, a common strategy to improve the flow of credit and U.S.
investment opportunities in Mexico and by increasing funding for
entrepreneurial efforts of all sizes, such as microcredit and
microenterprise programs and Overseas Private Investment Corporation
(OPIC) projects. OPIC--a loan program that assists U.S. small business
investments in foreign countries--is already developing a limited small
business financing program to support U.S. investments in
environmentally sound projects in Mexico. We should work to expand the
availability of this kind of investment assistance.
Second, we should expand the mandate of the North American
Development Bank (NADbank) beyond the U.S.-Mexico border region--an
idea proposed by Congressman David Dreier and M. Delal Baer, an expert
in Latin American affairs for the Center for Strategic and
International Studies. The NADbank has been a successful source of
private-public financing of infrastructure projects along our borders.
Extending its authority inland will not only bring good jobs into the
interior of Mexico, but also would develop and further nationalize a
transportation and economic infrastructure.
Continued investments in NADBank also would facilitate greater
environmental cooperation between the United States and Mexico through
projects geared toward advancing the environmental goals and objectives
set forth in NAFTA and would enhance the overall protection of American
and Mexican natural resources.
Third, both nations need to pursue a joint immigration policy that
takes into account the realities of the economic conditions of both
countries. At a minimum, the Bush Administration should re-evaluate the
current guest worker program, which has proven burdensome for U.S.
farmers and small businesses. Any calls for a liberalization of this
program from President Fox should be linked to concrete programs to
reduce illegal immigration into the United States.
Fourth, in a quick and simple fix, the Bush Administration should
eliminate the annual cap on the number of visas issued to Mexican
business executives to enter the United States. Currently, the cap
stands at 5,500 and will be phased out by 2004. The United States does
not have such a cap for Canada. Repealing the cap now would send to
President Fox and the people of Mexico a positive signal about their
nation's value as an economic partner.
Fifth and finally, it is important for the United States to be seen
as a partner and resource when President Fox undertakes his pledge to
reform Mexico's entire judicial system. With a law enforcement system
plagued with inherent corruption and institutional and financial
deterioration, President Fox will face numerous challenges. It is in
our interest to help him upon his request, whether it be through
financial or technical assistance. It is in our own interest that he
succeed, because our country cannot reverse effectively the flow of
drugs across our border without the full cooperation and support of
Mexican law enforcement. Additionally, the Bush Administration should
explore possible multilateral anti-drug mechanisms and work with
President Fox to decentralize standard day-to-day border functions of
the hardworking and trusted law enforcement officials from both
The issues that impact the United States and Mexico are numerous--all
important, each interrelated with the other. Together, they present an
enormous task for the presidents of both countries. Perhaps most
important, they are evidence of the enormous importance of Mexico to
the future prosperity and security of our country, as well as our
hemisphere. The elections of Vicente Fox and George W. Bush present one
of the best opportunities not only to redefine U.S.-Mexico relations
for the better, but to bring all of Latin America to the top of the
Administration's foreign policy agenda.
We cannot underestimate, nor can we neglect our neighbors to the
south. President Bush knows this. He understands this. And, in a speech
last August in Miami, I think he, himself, best described our
relationship with Latin America, when he said:
Those who ignore Latin America do not fully understand
America, itself. . . . Our future cannot be separated from
the future of Latin America. . . . We seek, not just good
neighbors, but strong partners. We seek, not just progress,
but shared prosperity. With persistence and courage, we
shaped the last century into an American century. With
leadership and commitment, this can be the century of the
I couldn't agree more.
At this point, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution before the
Senate be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to
laid upon the table, and finally, that any statements relating to the
resolution be printed in the Record.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
The concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 13) was agreed to.
The preamble was agreed to.
(The resolution is printed in today's Record under ``Submission of
Concurrent and Senate Resolution.'')
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