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[Congressional Record: February 14, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S1435-S1437]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                      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 
submitted earlier.
  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 
concurrent resolution.
  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 
Mexico for

[[Page S1436]]

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 
reconsider be

[[Page S1437]]

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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