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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: September 6, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S9159-S9160]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr06se01-131]                         



 
   UNITED STATES-MEXICO ENGAGEMENT: AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY FOR 
                              COOPERATION

  Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, earlier today we welcomed to the historic 
House Chamber President Vicente Fox, the President of Mexico. At this 
moment, President Bush and President Fox are in my home State of Ohio. 
They traveled to Toledo, OH, making several visits there. So we welcome 
both Presidents to our home State.
  As an opposition candidate, President Fox's election and inauguration 
last year overturned 71 years of one-party rule in Mexico, one-party 
rule domination of the executive branch by the Institutional 
Revolutionary Party, PRI. That election made history. And today, with 
his Presidency, and with President Bush in office, we are continuing to 
make history, as our nations have the unprecedented opportunity to 
implement positive changes and to create lasting progress for our 
entire hemisphere.
  I say to my colleagues, it is important that we not squander this 
opportunity, that we not squander this chance. Because of Mexico's 
critical importance to our Nation and our hemisphere, it was not at all 
surprising that President Bush chose to travel to Mexico for his first 
official foreign trip as President.
  This week we welcome President Fox to our country. These historic 
meetings demonstrate the vital nature of our relationship with Mexico 
and the importance of bilateral cooperation.
  I commend both leaders on their ongoing commitment to hemispheric 
partnership, and look forward to even greater cooperation stemming from 
this week's meetings.
  No one can deny the importance of our involvement with Mexico--our 
neighbor--a nation with which we share an over 2,000-mile common 
border.
  Additionally, over 21 million Americans living in this country are of 
Mexican heritage; that is 67 percent, two-thirds of our total U.S.-
Hispanic population. Indeed, many people and many issues bind our 
nations together. It is in the interest of both Mexico and the United 
States that we make that bond even stronger.
  That is why we want to see President Fox succeed. He is off to a good 
start.
  President Fox's election was 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 people. 
At the same time, Mr. Fox also has raised expectations here in 
Washington for better opportunities to improve U.S.-Mexico bilateral 
cooperation on a wide range of issues.
  As an advocate of free trade in the Americas, Mr. Fox recognizes that 
a strong, steady economy in Mexico can be the foundation to help solve 
many of our shared challenges and advance our mutual interests.
  I am confident that President Fox's visit to the United States will 
advance our growing and strengthening partnership and that both leaders 
will engage in constructive dialog to promote cooperation, enhance the 
security and prosperity of both nations, and enable each country to 
establish mutually agreed-upon goals in at least four areas: First, 
economic development and trade; two, the environment; three, 
immigration; and four, law enforcement and counterdrug policy.
  In each of these four areas, both countries should seek to implement 
realistic and practical steps that will build confidence in our 
partnership and help set the stage for continued discussions and 
further progress.
  A good demonstration of our relationship's success is the economic 
cooperation spearheaded by the North American Free Trade Agreement, 
NAFTA.
  Thanks to this partnership, trade between the United States and 
Mexico now amounts to over $250 billion annually, making our neighbor 
to the south now our second largest trading partner behind Canada.
  In the last decade, U.S. exports to Mexico have increased over 200 
percent, and today 85 percent of Mexico's entire exports go to the 
United States. However, progress in our partnership cannot occur 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 in Mexico. In 
fact, as could be expected, the slowdown in the U.S. economy has also 
had an impact on Mexico. Lack of jobs and depressed wages are 
particularly acute in the interior of the country, once you get away 
from the U.S.-Mexican border in the north. That is even true in 
President Fox's home state of Guanajuato.
  As long as enormous disparities in wages and living conditions exist 
between Mexico and the United States, our Nation will simply not fully 
realize the potential of Mexico as an export market, nor will we be 
able to deal adequately with the resulting problems that come about 
because of that poor economy, because of that great disparity in wealth 
that brings about illegal immigration, border crime, drug trafficking, 
and other problems.
  In keeping with the market-oriented approach that we started 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, which is something that clearly this 
administration and this Congress must push.

  First, we can bring to Mexico the Overseas Private Investment 
Corporation, a loan program that also assists U.S. small business 
investments in many other countries.
  Second, we can encourage entrepreneurship in Mexico through increased 
U.S. funding of microcredit and microenterprise programs, which will 
encourage small business development.
  Third, we should expand the mandate of the North American Development 
Bank beyond the current situation where it only extends to the U.S.-
Mexico border.
  This bank has been a successful source of private-public financing of 
infrastructure projects along our borders. Extending its authority 
inland not only would bring good jobs into the interior of Mexico but 
also would help to develop and further nationalize a transportation and 
economic infrastructure.
  Continued investments in the 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 also would enhance the overall protection of 
U.S. and Mexican natural resources.
  Both nations need to pursue a joint immigration policy that takes 
into account the realities of the economic conditions of our countries. 
At a minimum, President Bush should continue to evaluate the temporary 
visa program for unskilled workers, which has proven burdensome for 
U.S. farmers and small business men and women. Any liberalization of 
this program should be linked to concrete programs to reduce illegal 
immigration into the United States. This is not going to be an easy 
issue. We have heard discussion from President Fox and President Bush 
over the last several days about this. Many Members of Congress have 
very strong opinions about it. I believe it is important for us to deal 
with this issue in a practical and rational way.
  Additionally, in a quick and simple fix, the administration should 
eliminate the annual cap on the number of visas issued to Mexican 
business executives who enter the United States. Currently, the cap 
stands at 5,500. And under current law, it will be phased out in the 
year 2004. The United States does not have such a cap for Canada. 
Repealing the cap now would send a very positive signal to President 
Fox and to the Mexican people about their nation's value to us as an 
economic partner.
  Further, it is important for the United States to be seen as a 
partner and resource, as President Fox undertakes his pledge to reform 
Mexico's entire judicial system.
  I have had the opportunity, as I know many Members of the Senate 
have, to travel to Mexico and see the problems,

[[Page S9160]]

the inherent problems, historic problems, problems of long standing in 
regard to the police and the judicial system. It was very insightful 
and important that today, when President Fox spoke to the Congress, he 
talked about the need for judicial reform. This is an area where, 
frankly, for all the problems of this country, we do it very well.
  We have the ability to help Mexico. We have the ability to help them 
in this area. We should continue to do so.
  With the law enforcement system in Mexico plagued with inherent 
corruption and institutional and financial deterioration, President Fox 
will face numerous challenges.
  It is in our interest to help Mr. Fox in his quest, if needed, 
whether it be through financial or technical assistance. It is in our 
own interest in the United States that Mexico succeed in this reform 
because our country cannot reverse effectively the flow of drugs across 
our common border without the full cooperation and support of our 
Mexican law enforcement friends. The relationship between our law 
enforcement--our DEA, FBI, Border Patrol, and their counterparts in 
Mexico--is so very important. I have watched this over the years, and 
that relationship has been problematic. But I will say this: I believe 
it is improving. I believe clearly President Vicente Fox has made this 
a top priority of his administration. It will not be easy, but we can 
help.
  The issues that impact the United States and Mexico are numerous. It 
is not going to be easy to resolve these problems. All are important, 
and each is, in a sense, 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 
entire hemisphere.
  I commend President Bush and President Fox for the many advancements 
they have achieved so far. I encourage them to continue this 
cooperation and this effort. Together, our nations can, in this 
historic time, redefine the United States-Mexican relationship and 
protect and promote prosperity throughout our shared hemisphere.
  In conclusion, President Fox mentioned a topic which has been debated 
on this floor many times and which we have taken up and looked at, and 
we have thought a lot about it; that is, the drug certification process 
that we go through as a country every year, where we basically say how 
well other countries are doing in their antidrug effort and whether 
they are cooperating with the United States. I think the time is here 
for us to re-evaluate our law. I think the time is here for us to put a 
temporary moratorium on this certification process. I think it will 
help our relationship with Mexico. I think it would help our 
relationship with other countries. I think the time is appropriate to 
do this.
  Mexico has a new President. Mexico has a President who has stated 
that one of his main objectives is the reform of the judicial system, 
to do away with the corruption in the judiciary, to do away with the 
problems they have had in the law enforcement realm. So I think the 
time is right. If we are ever going to do this, the time is right to do 
it. I don't think we have a great deal to lose. The current system has 
not worked very well. It has not accomplished a great deal. So I think 
the time is ripe now for us to put a temporary moratorium on the 
certification process.
  President Fox, throughout his speech, talked about trust. I think 
that is the right word. We have to have trust between our two 
countries. That does not mean we are not going to have disputes. It 
doesn't mean we are not going to have problems. It doesn't mean these 
problems are going to be easy to resolve. We know they are not--the 
immigration problem and the drug problem, just to name a few. We know 
they are not easy.
  I think the right tone was set in today's speech by President Fox.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a 
quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________





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