[Congressional Record: September 6, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
UNITED STATES-MEXICO ENGAGEMENT: AN UNPRECEDENTED OPPORTUNITY FOR
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
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
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
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
A good demonstration of our relationship's success is the economic
cooperation spearheaded by the North American Free Trade Agreement,
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.-
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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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