Mexican President Vicente Fox visited the White House on September 5-6, 2001. During the state visit, the White House released the following nine fact sheets on the Cabinet-level Binational Commission, United States-Mexican relations, the North American Free Trade Agreement, binational institutions, trucking, the environment, law enforcement cooperation, migration, and the economy.
The following is the fact related to the Binational Commission on September 4, 2001.
Held alternately in Washington and Mexico City, the Cabinet-level Binational Commission (BNC) is the principal mechanism for focusing high-level attention on the full range of issues affecting relations between the United States and Mexico. The United States hosted the 2000 BNC, and again in 2001 because of the State Visit of President Fox September.
The Binational Commission was established in 1981 by Presidents Reagan and Lopez Portillo to serve as a forum for meetings between Cabinet-level officials from both countries. The BNC was envisioned as a simple, flexible tool that would meet once or twice annually, with U.S. and Mexican counterparts addressing topics requiring high-level attention.
Following the President’s trip to Guanajuato in February 2001, the United States and Mexico agreed to streamline and upgrade the BNC. Its 16 working groups were arranged under seven new thematically linked “Binational Groups” jointly chaired by a Mexican and U.S. Cabinet officer. The reorganization reflects the management approach of both Presidents and their desire to strengthen the effectiveness, accountability, and problem-solving orientation of the BNC. The 16 sub-groups continue to meet as necessary throughout the year under Cabinet-level direction. The Cabinet Binational Group chairs will meet annually with the two Presidents to report on their activities and to receive direction for the next year. The first such joint Cabinet meeting will take place during President Fox’s State Visit.
The seven Binational Groups will cover the following themes: migration ; law enforcement and counternarcotics; border affairs; trade and economics ; energy; global and social issues, and foreign policy. Each group established its own schedule of bilateral meetings, and the subgroups under each Binational Group have met independently to explore specific topics in depth.
The Binational Groups, and their sub-groups, are chaired at the cabinet level. Some of the groups have co-chairs on one or both sides. The chairs of the binational groups that will brief the presidents are the heads of the following departments:
|Law Enforcement/Counternarcotics||Justice||National Security Adv./Attorney General|
|Border Affairs||State||Foreign Relations|
|Trade and Economics||USTR/Agriculture||Finance/Economy/Agriculture|
|Bilateral Cooperation||EPA/Education||Commissioner for Social Development|
|Foreign Policy||State||Foreign Relations|
The following is the fact sheet on US-Mexican relations issued by the White House on September 4, 2001.
“Our nations are bound together by ties of history, family, values, commerce and culture. Today these ties give us an unprecedented opportunity. We have a chance to build a partnership that will improve the lives of citizens of both nations.”
President George W. Bush
February 16, 2001
The United States and Mexico enjoy close and cordial bilateral relations that cover an unprecedented range of issues and engage a wide range of participants in government, the private sector and civil society. At the federal government level, U.S.-Mexico relations are coordinated by the Binational Commission (BNC). The BNC is a unique forum that allows for regular exchanges at the cabinet level on a wide range of issues that are critical to the bilateral relationship.
This year, a streamlined and reorganized BNC will meet on September 4, immediately preceding the State Visit by Mexican President Vicente Fox. On September 6, at a joint Cabinet meeting, the results of the BNC sessions will be briefed to the two Presidents. This year, the U.S. and Mexico will have held working group sessions on a wide range of bilateral topics, including agriculture, border affairs, science and technology, education and cultural affairs, energy, environment, financial issues, health, housing, labor, legal affairs, migration, trade, investment and transportation.
Several other separate bilateral organizations deal with the U.S.-Mexico border, including a commission of the border governors and organizations devoted to health, the environment, water and border crossings. The U.S. and Mexico consult closely on improving the safety of the border and improving the orderly flow of legal migration. Over one million people cross our common border every day.
Trade relations with Mexico have blossomed under NAFTA, with Mexico becoming the second largest trading partner of the U.S., second only to Canada ? the other NAFTA partner. Total trade between the U.S. and Mexico reached over $260 billion in 2000. Law enforcement cooperation remains a high priority of the two nations and is an area where we have seen steady progress.
President Bush and President Fox have held meetings on four previous occasions:
— Bilateral on February 16 in Guanajuato;
— Bilateral on April 21 in Quebec City;
— Trilateral, with Canadian Prime Minister Chretien, on April 22 in Quebec City; and
— Bilateral on May 3 at the White House.
The State Visit of President Fox will mark the fifth meeting between the two leaders.
The following is the fact sheet on NAFTA issued by the White House on September 4, 2001.
“Increased trade and investment are cornerstones of a vibrant, expanding, and more comprehensive NAFTA, bringing about a truly remarkable expansion of trade and investment among our countries.”
President George W. Bush
April 22, 2001
NAFTA implementation began seven years ago, creating the world’s largest free trade area. The agreement now links the U.S., Canada and Mexico’s 406 million people, producing more than $11 trillion worth of goods and services.
NAFTA has enabled Mexico and the U.S. to establish a solid, dynamic trading partnership. Mexico is our second largest trading partner, with an average of $650 million in goods crossing the border each day. Total trade between the U.S. and Mexico was $261 billion in 2000, three times the 1993 pre-NAFTA average. U.S. foreign direct investment in Mexico in 2000 was $8.9 billion, and is expected to be significantly higher in 2001. As our business cycles converge, both countries have had sharp slowdowns in economic growth in 2001. Despite this, trade between us remains strong, at $99 billion for the first five months of 2001.
While trade relations are strong, there are inevitable disagreements. NAFTA’s dispute resolution process provides mechanisms for citizens and governments to raise questions regarding failure to enforce NAFTA’s trade, environmental and labor laws. U.S. investors have brought nine claims to dispute settlement, with a settlement or award so far in five.
Several issues have proved contentious. We remain committed to resolving those disputes through open and frank negotiations. The administration has pledged to work with Congress to see that the U.S. fulfills our international obligations under NAFTA while ensuring U.S. labor and environmental standards.
The following is the fact sheet on Binational Institutions issued by the White House on September 5, 2001.
In 1993, the United States and Mexico agreed to a bilateral cooperative framework for helping the border region develop the water, wastewater, and solid waste infrastructure needed because of the economic and population growth resulting from NAFTA. The countries set up two binational institutions: the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADBank). BECC works with local communities to develop projects, which it certifies; NADBank arranges financing for BECC-certified projects and helps see the projects through to completion.
BECC and NADBank have made a positive impact on the border’s environmental needs: there are 44 certified projects, of which 35 are operational or under construction. These represent a total investment value of $940.5 million and benefit around seven million people on both sides of the border. Many more projects are in the pipeline, and the two institutions are providing valuable technical assistance to communities.
The United States and Mexico agreed in November 2000 to expand the range of environmental projects within the BECC-NADBank mandate and to start a new, lower-cost financing mechanism for lower income communities. The Fox Administration has proposed changes, which would allow NADBank financing in non-environmental sectors and in a wider geographic zone. The United States continues to believe that work on improving BECC and NADBank while keeping them focused on their primary mission — border environmental infrastructure — remains the top priority.
Both governments have launched discussions on how to improve the performance of both institutions in achieving their original mission and on ways to promote broader economic development in Mexico.
The following is the fact sheet on trucking issued by the White House on September 5, 2001.
“I urge Congress to deal fairly with Mexico and to not treat the Mexican truck industry in an unfair fashion. I believe strongly we can have safety measures in place that will make sure our highways are safe. But we should not single out Mexico. Mexico is our close friend and ally and we must treat it with respect and uphold NAFTA and the spirit of NAFTA.”
President George W. Bush
July 25, 2001
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States agreed to permit cross-border passenger and cargo services beginning in 1995 in border states. The U.S. government delayed the border opening in 1995 citing safety concerns. A NAFTA dispute settlement panel ruled February 6 that the blanket exclusion of Mexican trucks from the United States violated our NAFTA commitments. Given that ruling, Mexico now has the right to retaliate against U.S. exports up to the same dollar value of losses as those caused by the U.S. action. Mexico estimates those losses may be as high may be as high as $1 to $2 billion a year.
The Department of Transportation published draft rules in May which outline proposed documentation, inspection and safety compliance requirements for Mexican trucks seeking to enter the United States, with the goal of allowing access as of January 1, 2002. The House and Senate have taken different steps to block the opening of the border. The Department of Transportation’s $88 million budget request to double the number of safety inspectors and improve inspection facilities was blocked June 26, when the House inserted language to prevent the processing of applications from Mexican trucking firms. The Senate version, approved August 1, would subject Mexican trucks to a wide range of requirements that could delay a border opening for two or more years.
The Administration has pledged to work with Congress to ensure that all trucks operating in the U.S. meet safety standards while we fulfill our international obligations. The President has vowed to veto any legislation that prevents the U.S. from meeting its NAFTA obligations. The House and Senate versions of the legislation will go to conference committee when Congress reconvenes.
The following is the fact sheet on the environment issued by the White House on September 5, 2001.
The United States and Mexico share the goal of improving environmental quality, with particular emphasis on the border region, an area undergoing tremendous population and industrial growth. The La Paz Agreement of 1983 defined the border region and laid the groundwork for binational cooperation on the border environment. Under this agreement, EPA and SEMARNAT developed the Border XXI program, which operated for a five-year period period ending in 2000.
Border XXI achieved a number of successes in hazardous waste management and air pollution monitoring. EPA and SEMARNAT have agreed that the cooperation initiated under Border XXI will continue and will be expanded. The U.S. and Mexico will develop a new multi-year plan to follow-on from Border XXI, with increased participation by border stakeholders.
Under a side-agreement to NAFTA, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico set up the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC provides a mechanism for citizen submissions on questions of compliance with national environmental laws. It also provides a framework for a number of cooperative efforts in environmental research and education.
Under a NAFTA-related bilateral agreement, the U.S. and Mexico set up the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADBank). BECC and NADBank are helping develop the environmental infrastructure that border communities need in this time of rapid growth. There are now 47 projects either completed or under development. The U.S. and Mexico are discussing strategies for improving the productivity of BECC and NADBank.
In 2000, the U.S. and Mexico set up a new binational Border Health Commission. This Commission will play an active role in a variety of environmental health matters.
The rapid growth of the border region makes it imperative that the U.S. and Mexico continue and expand their cooperation on environmental matters. Both countries fully intend to increase their cooperation in the months and years ahead.
The following is the fact sheet on law enforcement issued by the White House on September 5, 2001.
“Drug trafficking, drug abuse, and organized crime are major threats to the well-being of our societies. To combat this threat, we must strengthen our respective law enforcement strategies and institutions, as well as develop closer and more trusting bilateral and multilateral cooperation.”
President George W. Bush
February 16, 2001
The law enforcement relationship with Mexico is evolving into a solid partnership. The Fox Administration has launched a major effort to root out corruption, and has had several early successes.
Our two governments are committed to strengthening our law enforcement cooperation. Together, we are increasing “confidence and competence” through training and technical exchanges and improved information sharing. An example of an excellent collaborative effort was Operation Marquis, a joint operation that severely disrupted a major narcotics smuggling organization operating out of Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. As a result of Operation Marquis, law enforcement officials arrested over 80 suspects in major American cities and in Mexico.
The government of Mexico has also achieved notable success this year with the arrest of a former governor of the State of Quintana Roo, who was suspected of assisting in the transshipment of multi-ton shipments of cocaine from South America to the U.S. They also arrested Gilberto Garcia Mena, suspected leader of the Gulf Cartel, and Alcides Ramon Magana, a known drug kingpin.
The following is the fact sheet on migration issued by the White House on September 5, 2001.
“Migration is one of the major ties that bind our societies. It is important that our policies reflect our values and needs, and that we achieve progress in dealing with this phenomenon. We agree there should be an orderly framework for migration which ensures humane treatment, legal security, and dignified labor conditions.”
President George W. Bush
February 16, 2001
Guiding Principles in U.S. Discussions with Mexico
— Humane Approach: We want to ensure that migration to the United States is safe, legal, orderly, and dignified. The system should be humane, family-friendly, and respect the enormously valuable role immigrants continue to play in building our nation.
— Protection of American Workers: The immigration system must not disadvantage American workers. We want to ensure an adequate labor supply for U.S. employers when American workers are not available.
— Fairness: The immigration system must be fair. Our most important obligation is to those who follow the rules and abide by the law. The only path is the legal path.
— Joint Commitment: The United States and Mexico must work together in an authentic partnership to keep our borders orderly and safe, and ensure the integrity and success of any new policies.
— Temporary Worker Program: We are working with Mexico on options for a new program for temporary workers -one that is grounded in reality and the needs of our economy, and that doesn’t hurt U.S. workers. The program would rest on a carefully worked out partnership between the sending and receiving countries that recognizes the contributions undocumented Mexicans are making in the United States and that brings together willing workers and willing employers. This is an issue that will require close consultations with the U.S. Congress and U.S. civil society.
The following is the fact sheet on the “Partnership for Prosperity” initiative issued by the White House on September 6, 2001. (The quote below originally appeared in italics, but was removed to avoid confusion.)
“Among our highest priorities is unfettering the economic potential of every citizen, so each may contribute fully to narrowing the economic gaps between and within our societies.”
— President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox
February 16, 2001
Forming a “Partnership for Prosperity”: To help address some of the root causes of migration, Presidents Bush and Fox have agreed to form a public-private alliance to spur private-sector economic growth throughout Mexico. This “Partnership for Prosperity” — led on the U.S. side by Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Kenneth Dam and Under Secretary of State Alan Larson, and on Mexico’s side by Under Secretary Augustin Carstens and Under Secretary of Foreign Relations Miguel Hakim — would draw upon the best ideas of U.S. and Mexican economists, businesspeople, development experts, and policymakers.
Importantly, this partnership would focus on ways to promote private sector growth beyond the border. Examples of the types of opportunities that could be explored include:
- Promoting U.S. direct investment in Mexico, with special emphasis on small and mid-sized businesses;
- Assisting all regions of Mexico to develop a capacity to attract private investment;
- Promoting investment in infrastructure;
- Creating jobs and facilitating increased efficiency for small and medium-sized businesses through use of communications technology to create new and improved linkages between customers and suppliers; and
- Identifying ways for existing programs, such as those of the Export-Import Bank and the multilateral institutions, to play a more effective role in Mexican economic development.
Presidents Bush and Fox have asked this group to report back with a concrete action plan by March 2002.
This effort should complement — not supplant — the many fruitful ways in which the United States and Mexico are working together in other areas, including enhancing our trade relationship; promoting macroeconomic stability; addressing migration and labor issues; protecting the environment, particularly along our border; and cooperating in the fight against drug trafficking, drug abuse, and organized crime.
During the three day state visit, the White House published eight sets of remarks made by Presidents Bush and Fox.
Presidents Bush and Fox issued the following remarks from the South Lawn of the White House on the morning of September 5, 2001.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, Mrs. Fox, members of the Mexican delegation, distinguished guests: On behalf of the American people, it is my honor to welcome you to the United States.
Mexico is the first country I visited as President. Today it is my privilege to welcome President Fox for the first state visit of my administration. This is a recognition that the United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico.
The starting point of a sound foreign policy is to build a stable and prosperous neighborhood, with good relations amongst neighbors. Good neighbors work together and benefit from each other’s successes.
Mr. President, you are a Mexican patriot with a great vision for a great people — a vision of justice and prosperity. Your election signaled a new birth of freedom for Mexico and set an example for the entire world. The United States is proud to stand beside you as your partner and as your friend.
Our nations have an historic opportunity to build an authentic partnership grounded in trust and in freedom. Since 1994, the Free Trade Agreement amongst our two countries and Canada has created millions of jobs and lifted millions of lives. NAFTA stands as a model for the benefits that are possible when trade is open and free. Today, our two nations are working together to extend the benefits of free trade throughout our hemisphere and throughout the world.
Our common interests, however, extend far beyond commerce. We value the cultural contributions each nation makes to each other. We treasure the family ties that bind so many millions of our citizens. We understand that the border we share is a vibrant region that unites us.
We understand that our two nations must work together in a spirit of respect and common purpose to seize opportunities and tackle challenges on the issues that affect the lives of our citizens, including migration, the environment, drugs, crime, corruption, and education. And both our governments share a great project, a fully democratic Western Hemisphere that grows in prosperity and trades in freedom.
Some have described the century that just passed as the American century. Now we look forward. We have a chance to build a century of the Americas, in which all our people, North and South, find the blessings of liberty. This goal is worthy of our two great nations.
A Mexican proverb tells us that “Que tiene un buen vecino tiene un buen amigo” — “He who has a good neighbor has a good friend.” Today, both our countries are committed to being good neighbors, and good friends. Friends deal in good faith, and disagree with respect. Friends stick together, in good times and in bad.
Most of all, friends bring out the best in each other. Today, Mexico and the United States are bringing out the best in each other — in commerce, in culture, and in our shared commitment to democratic values. We’re building a relationship that is unique in the world, a relationship of unprecedented closeness and cooperation. And this visit is a milestone on that journey.
President Fox, in February you welcomed me in your home in Guanajuato. Today, Laura and I and the American people are honored to welcome you and Mrs. Fox to the casa blanca nuestro pais. (Laughter.) Thank you for coming. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT FOX: President George Bush, Mrs. Laura Welsh Bush, ladies and gentlemen, friends, all: I want to express to you my most sincere thanks for this warm reception, and to present to you, Mr. President, and to the people of the United States, the greeting of fraternity, warmth and solidarity of the people of Mexico. It is a great honor for me to come once again to this great nation and to have the privilege of enjoying your hospitality.
I have come to Washington today as the President of a democratic Mexico, of a Mexico determined to become a prosperous, secure nation, open to the world; a vibrant and dynamic country which seeks not only to strengthen its bonds of friendship with the rest of the international community, but is also determined to play a more active role in establishing the new international architecture.
I have said with conviction on several occasions that our two countries at present are living in an era which is unique in the history of our relations — an era full of challenges that we must face united, and of opportunities which we must take up together. For it is only in this way that we will be able to make that area of prosperity shared between Mexico and the United States that we are building a reality, along with Canada and all of North America.
Today our countries have an intense flow of trade. Today Mexico buys from the United States more products and services than from Spain, Germany, France and Italy, combined. We share the most dynamic border in the world. The contacts between the cities and the states along the border are growing and diverse in nature. And our societies have links which grow stronger and more friendly every day.
We wish to take advantage of that foundation in order to strengthen our economic ties, providing a lasting and mutually beneficial solution to the challenges that naturally arise in a relationship as complex and dynamic as our own. We wish to consolidate our cultural and educational exchange, aware of the wealth of our heritage and traditions, and attaching special importance to scientific, technological and computer exchanges.
We also wish to strengthen in every sense of the word our cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and organized crime. Likewise, we want to continue making progress towards the establishment of an agreement on migration which will be of mutual benefit to us, and which will recognize above all the value of migrants as human beings and as workers whose hard work is a daily contribution to the prosperity of this great nation.
The time has come to give migrants and their communities their proper place in the history of our bilateral relations. Both our countries owe them a great deal. And working together, both of us can build new conditions of fairness for them, as well as for the development and prosperity of our two nations.
For this reason, we must, and we can, reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year, which will allow us, before the end of our respective terms, to make sure that there are no Mexicans who have not entered this country legally in the United States, and that those Mexicans who have come into the country do so with the proper documents.
Mr. President, the values that we share and the interests that bind us must reaffirm our determination to make of the relationship between Mexico and the United States an example of prosperity and understanding. And this will only be possible if we are willing to strengthen the trust between our two nations, because it is only through trust that we will be able to reach the goals that we have set for ourselves.
Together, let us defend the values of democracy and the respect for human rights in our region and throughout the world. Let us see free trade as the engine of economic growth and the source of a better standard of living for our two peoples. Let us understand development with justice to be an inclusive form of prosperity. Let us make law and respect for the law the indispensable framework on which the freedom and security of our citizens depend.
Let us walk together along the path of prosperity with a firm step as partners and as friends, recalling the words of Benjamin Franklin: “A brother may not be a friend, but a friend will always be a brother.”
President Bush, my friend, you honored me by visiting my home in Mexico. Today, I feel honored to be welcomed here in the White House. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Presidents Bush and Fox made the following short remarks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House following a joint cabinet meeting in the early afternoon of September 5, 2001.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, first, let me introduce you to many of the members of our press corps, which are fine Americans. (Laughter.)
We have had an extraordinary meeting. Not only did the President and I meet in the Oval Office, for a continuation of our frank discussions on very important issues that relate to our two countries, we then just had a joint Cabinet meeting.
I suspect this is the first time there has been a joint Cabinet meeting between the Mexican government and the United States government, or the United States government and any government, for that matter. And some of our Cabinet officials briefed the President and me on a variety of subjects: crime, agriculture, water issues, energy, migration and foreign policy within the region.
What I came away with is that the spirit of cooperation has never been stronger; that not only do the President and I consider ourselves friends, but our Cabinet officials have gotten to know each other on a personal basis. And the dialogue is very important and very frank.
Our relationship with Mexico is an incredibly important relationship. It’s one where there’s a lot of opportunity, and it’s a relationship where there are problems. And in order to deal with those problems and take advantage of those opportunities, it’s important to have discussions at all levels in our government. And this is what we’ve begun.
Mr. President, I’m so honored you are here. This is the first State Visit that I’ve had as the President, and I can’t think of a better State Visit and a better way to culminate the morning than to have had a frank discussion amongst the able team that you’ve put together and the able team that I’ve put together.
I’d be glad to have some of your comments, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT FOX: Thank you very much. I think there are a lot of expectations out of this visit, the State Visit to the United States. We are very pleased and honored to be here, especially to witness the effort, the amount of jobs, the amount of work and meetings that have gone through since we last met in Mexico.
As was mentioned here, the ambiente is the correct ambiente; it is of a professionalism; it is a frank and open discussions; it is of productivity, this ambiente which we are living during the day.
It was mentioned here that today we have an everyday contact on most of the working teams that are doing this job behind the scene that we’re seeing here. I’m very, very satisfied, where we have been reported today as the work that has been done in the last six months. And there is clear advantage on each of the subjects.
But more so, there is a clear advance on this philosophy of trust that we are building in, that we have built in the process and that is the foundation of the actions, the deliberations, the discussions and the conclusions and decisions that are being taken all along through the process.
So to us, today we reaffirm that this friendship, this strong relationship that has been built between Mexico and the United States is becoming now very productive. So we make — that this will come on flowing in this close future and keep advancing on each of the subjects that we have discussed.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all very much.
Following the remarks by Presidents Bush and Fox, US Attorney General John Ashcroft, Mexican Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, and Mexican Commissioner for Social Development Jose Sarukhan gave the following remarks from the West Portico in the White House.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: The relationship which the Presidents of the United States and Mexico began, on a high level and on a personal level earlier this year, are bearing fruit in the development of a wide variety of areas of cooperation between Cabinet members and Cabinet-level officials across our government.
In particular, I’m delighted today to be joined by Attorney General Macedo de la Concha of Mexico, with whom we’ve had a very substantial set of meetings over the past seven months, and with whom our cooperation is significant.
The concept of shared responsibility, which is a concept promoted by Presidents Fox and Bush, is one which is being translated into policy not only on the border, as I have a responsibility through the INS and border patrol, but in our cooperation on law enforcement areas generally, and this idea of shared responsibilities reflected in the cooperation between the Cabinet agencies.
I’m delighted to report that at no time in the history of Mexico has our relationship been stronger and does the cooperation which we have reached been more thorough. Yesterday we signed an agreement relating to sharing seized assets that are confiscated when criminal apprehensions are made. We have previously worked together for items such as making sure that we respect the dignity and humanity of individuals that are involved on our borders, the new BORSTAR teams, the border rescue search and trauma teams that have been created by our border patrol have been the subject of our discussions, as well as the use of non-lethal force on the border, which has been a suggestion by our Mexican friends and which has resulted in better and improved performance in terms of our own efforts.
So I want to say how pleased I am to have the opportunity of being a part of this high level of cooperation, this friendship that is developing, based on trust that results in mutual achievements.
It’s my pleasure now to yield the opportunity to speak to the Attorney General of Mexico, Macedo de la Concha.
ATTORNEY GENERAL MACEDO: (Statement made in Spanish.)
SECRETARY PAIGE: We enjoyed the opportunity to meet with Secretary Tamez and to introduce the leadership of our various agencies to continue and expand the discussion around some issues that are very important to both of us.
I think the issue that we discussed most was the issues of migrant education, and seeing how we can cooperate to provide better services to students who may find themselves sometimes enrolled both in American schools and in Mexican schools in the same year. Making sure that our curricular lines are — and that the record-keeping is good, is going to take a good deal of cooperation from the two groups. We were excited about the opportunity to discuss these solutions.
We had some opportunities to discuss higher education and the exchange of teachers. We have a tremendous bilingual education shortage in the United States, and we feel that we had some opportunities here to find some solutions to that problem.
Technology is going to offer us other opportunities to cooperate. But the key thing about this is, this was not an event, but a relationship that is going to continue over a long period. In the bonding that we achieved, and understanding and commitments that we made to each other, I think is going to serve students well, both in Mexico and the United States.
ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN: The Cabinet-level meetings that we held both yesterday and today are just really the next step in a process that started with the beginning of this administration, and a very close collaboration between the two countries on issues of vital importance of the environment, particularly along the border.
Our discussions focused on what we can do to ensure that we make the border initiatives more effective. We have two tools for financing border projects. We need to make sure that they are doing an even more comprehensive job, although we have 39 projects currently underway, addressing particularly water infrastructure issues along the border.
We talked about global climate change issues. We are working very closely with the Mexicans who are taking the lead on air quality issues in Mexico City. We also have agreed to come together to expand the seven principles of environmental protection. We also want to ensure that we have the appropriate database so we can go forward with projects that can be reflective of measured success. And in order to measure success, you have to have a baseline database, so that’s one of the areas on which we’re doing to concentrate in the future.
We have talked about a focus on the Gulf of Mexico on the dead zones, working collaboratively with the states of Mexico that border on the Gulf, as well as all our states here in the United States, to ensure that we are doing what we can to try to restore that ecosystem.
Those are obviously just a few of a myriad of issues of great importance. Another one that is overriding on which we have sister-state relationships is to ensure that we have emergency response teams prepared and trained on both sides of the border to deal with any kind of environmental emergency that might result now or in the future.
And we also talked with an emphasis on ensuring that we continue to maintain air quality standards as we move forward on solving energy problems that face both our nations.
COMMISSIONER SARUKHAN: I will make a remark in English, and then I’ll translate it to Spanish for the benefit of our Mexican press. I was making the summary of all of the aspects that have to do with bilateral collaboration between the two countries, and certainly an enormously broad field of areas of interaction that have to do with education.
Secretary Paige has referred to some of them; I won’t repeat them — environment, and the Administrator of EPA has already referred to that as well, and as well as other areas in science and technology. What I can tell you is that if we admit, and that’s the case, that there are enormous asymmetries in the economic and commercial areas and the financial parts between Mexico and the U.S., the asymmetries in the social and human development are even bigger. And these are the ones which really matter for our government.
And those are the areas in which I believe we can do a great deal of progress, and I foresee a great deal of advancement in the next years in these areas — in sharing cultures, in sharing educational programs. Having been president of the national university for eight years, I can tell you there is an enormous field of interaction that’s still there to be explored, to be really advanced in it, both in education, higher education, but also in science and technology.
There are many, many aspects which are of interest to both of our countries. In the environment, for example, in which we have done a lot of advances, particularly in developing databases for biodiversity for North America, the construction of our very, very large millimetric telescope, which is now about to be finished in the state of Puebla. And these are only examples of the many things that could be achieved between the two countries.
I believe that the solidity, the strength of the relations between the two countries will only be achieved fully when the cultural and educational bases of the two societies really get together and we get to understand much within our cultures, our educational systems and our societies.
So this is something that I look at with great interest for the future. This meeting was very rich in those aspects, and I think there is all the intention to really broaden greatly on these issues in the future.
Q Mr. Ashcroft, does the President share President Fox’s timetable on immigration, on an immigration agreement — to have an immigration agreement concluded by the end of this year? And what is your reaction to this proposal?
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: From the beginning of the relationship between President Fox and President Bush, there’s been a clear understanding about the need to treat individuals with dignity, to be concerned about the safety of individuals along our borders, to be concerned about the contributions that individuals make in our culture and in the Mexican culture.
The President of the United States has placed a high priority on developing a strategy of matching willing workers with willing employers in this country, and making sure that our system that recognizes the work of individuals on both sides of the border is a system which is respectful, is orderly, and promotes the security and integrity and dignity of all people.
His assignment of the Secretary of State and me to this responsibility very early in his term, and the fact that I have met with my counterparts over a half-dozen times in working on this issue the fact that the Secretary of State has met with his counterpart similarly over and over again to discuss these issues, indicates that the President of the United States places this matter at a level of very high priority. And we will work to achieve a result which is in the interest of both of our nations on a very — as soon as possible.
Q But can you meet Fox’s timetable?
Q Do you agree with President Fox —
Q He said he wanted to have an agreement by the end of the year. Do you think that’s possible and do you agree with President Fox?
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: We have been working very diligently and I would expect our diligent work to continue. And I cannot forecast an exact time when — whether before or after that time, when we would have the kind of finality. But I can tell you that it is a matter of priority and substantial commitment and concern on the part of the President of the United States, and that we will continue to work as aggressively as we can to make sure that we resolve these issues at the earliest possible time.
Q Attorney General Ashcroft, is it your understanding, sir, that President Fox is talking about what some Mexican officials have referred to as the “whole enchilada,” or is he talking about piecemeal progress toward the goal of having some sort of expanded guest worker program and normalizing the status of those who are here?
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Well, I really am not in the position to interpret or to explain the remarks of the President, but I believe the President of Mexico has stated an objective that is consistent with the objective we have — that is, treating people with dignity, recognizing their contribution, developing a capacity to have an orderly process for migration in which people are a part of a legal structure so that individuals are documented and not undocumented, and that we not only respect the law, but we respect the dignity, integrity, and safety and security of people.
Those are the principles. We have spent substantial time and lots of energy getting to those principles. We now have before us the task of getting to the program and the details. And I believe that the commitment is as great now as it’s ever been. It’s obviously a priority of both of the Presidents, and I believe one upon which they agree.
Q Is this the first time you’ve heard of this deadline? Is this the first time you’ve heard of this deadline?
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: I’m not going to discuss what I’ve heard of and not heard of in various settings. There have been — what you have to understand is this: these discussions, because of the relationship that exists, which is very constructive, the discussions are very thorough and very candid and very open. And I think those are the kinds of discussions that are likely to arrive at a productive outcome at the earliest possible time, and I think that’s something that it’s clear that both the Presidents agree on.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made the following remarks during the state visit mid-afternoon September 5, 2001.
MS. PEREZ: Good afternoon and welcome to the White House Briefing Room. Joining us here today is Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor to President Bush, who will brief you on the meetings held thus far between Presidents Bush and Mexican President Fox. Her briefing is on the record and on camera. She’ll be happy to take questions at the end.
DR. RICE: Good afternoon. Well, any way that you look at it, this has been a remarkable day as President Bush and President Fox have had an opportunity to celebrate their remarkable and dynamic relationship. It’s one that has become really one of the most important for the United States in the eight months since we’ve been here. And it’s one that has a great bearing on the well-being of our people since this is our neighbor.
After the arrival ceremony on the South Lawn this morning, the President met privately with President Fox in the Oval Office. The two Presidents then presided over an historic joint Cabinet meeting. They heard reports from various Cabinet officers about what we’ve achieved together and what we still hope to achieve.
They covered fields as diverse as education, science, energy, law enforcement, the environment and migration. The reports painted a vivid and colorful picture of this very practical relationship, a relationship that goes on 365 days a year.
As the President has said, this is not a moment in time, this is a commitment. I would put it a little bit differently in that I once heard that someone said that international politics is inactivity punctuated by summits. Well, this is, in fact, a summit that celebrates the fact that there is constant activity in this relationship at all levels.
When he arrived this morning, President Fox emphasized the importance of trust and respect as the foundation of the new levels of cooperation between these two countries, and he’s absolutely right. I think that attitude reflected by the two Presidents has been the key to what we are achieving and hope to achieve in the future.
Thank you very much, and I’m happy to take questions.
Q Did the President, or his staff, know before this morning that President Fox was going to challenge you to have an agreement by the end of the year? And what do you think chances are that an agreement can be reached by the end of the year?
DR. RICE: We were aware that President Fox had this objective. And, indeed, we think that it would be terrific if we were able by the end of the year to achieve agreement. The two Presidents have said that they believe that over the term, their own terms, their respective terms, that they can make substantial progress in this important area. They already have made some progress in this area. And we’re going to work as hard and as fast as we possibly can to achieve the goal.
I should just note that there have already been more than five — about five to six meetings between Attorney General Ashcroft and his counterparts, and Secretary Powell and his counterparts. So they’re working the issue very, very hard, and we’re going to get there as quickly as we can. But as the two Presidents have said, we also have to get there right; it has to be done right, not just quickly.
Q What are the chances you’ll get it done by then?
DR. RICE: Well, we would be delighted if we can get it done by the end of the year, and we’re going to work very, very hard at it.
Q Dr. Rice, can you define what agreement means? Does President Fox mean an agreement in principle between the two nations, with legislative processes to move forward after that? Or is he talking about not only an agreement in principle, but something the Congress deals with and passes and the President signs by the end of the year?
DR. RICE: Well, we’re going to now have follow-on discussions with the Mexicans about how we proceed from here. But it’s very clear they already have some principles in place on which they agree about the importance of the safety of the borders, about the importance of recognizing in an humanitarian way the contributions of people who are living here in the United States and working, about the importance of matching willing workers with willing employers.
And so there are some principles from which they can start working, but I don’t think that we want to try to pre-guess what final form we’re going to have here. We’re just going to work at it as quickly as we can, and over the next several weeks we’ll be starting that process.
Q There’s a crucial distinction, would not you agree, and don’t you have any sense what he’s really driving at here?
DR. RICE: President Fox has made very clear that over their terms — and President Bush has made the same commitment — that over their terms they hope to make substantial progress on this extremely important issue.
It’s obviously a complicated issue, as President Fox said in his interview the other day. It’s got a lot of elements to it, including the involvement of the legislature. It has a lot of elements in it, including the involvement of the states. So there is a lot of work to be done here, but they are committed to doing that work and to moving as fast as possible to a system that will work better than the current system that we have on migration.
Q Condi, some administration officials have been talking about trying to do this — I hate to use the phrase “piecemeal,” but doing it in a part — sort of locking in progress along the way. President Fox seems to be thinking of this as a grand agreement, or what Minister Castaneda calls “the whole enchilada.” Can you tell us, is there a difference in the sense at which this agreement should be arrived and how it would be structured?
DR. RICE: Well, Jim, I don’t want to try and put words in President Fox’s mouth on this, but let me just say that I heard him to say that over their terms, he hoped that they could make substantial progress on this extremely important issue, and leave something in place that gives us a more humane system than we have now, a system that recognizes the contribution of Mexican workers in the United States and so forth and so on.
The progress that we’re making is obviously going to be step by step. And we’ve already made progress in putting some principles together from which we could work. Let me just remind everybody that the very thought that you have the Mexican President and the President of the United States sitting down to systematically talk about migration and how to deal with this issue is a breakthrough in and of itself.
This is an issue that has not been comfortable in the bilateral relationship. You have here two men who are comfortable talking about this issue, who recognize its importance, and who are committed to doing something good during their terms. That in itself is a breakthrough.
Q People who oppose this whole concept you’re working on say it’s amnesty. And for folks who may not have followed it that closely, how do you say it differs from amnesty, and what do you say to their argument that whatever you’re doing might reward people who have broken our laws?
DR. RICE: The principals recognize that it is important to have a legal structure. You might have noticed, for instance, that President Fox also said that he thought it was important that we stem the flow of people coming from Mexico into the United States illegally. So I do not think this is someone who is saying, we just want to open up the gates; that there is a recognition that there is a legal way to do this.
President Bush has also said, family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande. You have to recognize that there are people in this country who came because of poverty and the desire to work, and that their contributions need to be recognized. But nobody is suggesting that we simply throw away the legal framework here.
It is not — there is no conception here of a general amnesty. Neither President is talking in those terms. I think that’s extremely important to put on the record, that this is not talk of an amnesty. It is talk of finding ways to recognize the contributions of people who work very hard. It is a humane treatment issue. And President Bush is going to work hard within the administration and with the Congress to find a framework that serves us better than what we are dealing with now.
Q Tell us about the precedent-setting nature of whatever deal you strike. Obviously, there are some groups, non-Mexican groups, that feel that the United States immigration policy should not have preferences for Mexico simply because it shares a border. Do you feel that whatever deal you strike, you openly have to be prepared to spread to other countries that also seek to send their workers here?
DR. RICE: Well, David, one of the complexities of this is that, of course, the United States is a magnet for immigrants worldwide. So it is a complexity to figure out the relationship of what we do within our NAFTA zone here, and what we do with other countries. But I think those are exactly the kinds of issues that have to get worked through.
I think that it is obvious that, with a border, the issues are sometimes more intense and more immediate than with countries with which we do not share a border. But it’s obviously an issue that’s going to have to get worked through. And, no, we’re not thinking of precedent, per se; but, of course, it’s important to think of this in a worldwide character, too.
Q If I could follow that up. You said, “thinking in the NAFTA zone.” Of course, one of the other initiatives you have is to spread NAFTA, essentially, through the free trade area of the Americas. Would you foresee that in time the immigration policy would also be spread with the free trade area of the Americas?
DR. RICE: Well, David, I think that’s jumping a little far ahead, at this point. Right now, the two Presidents are dealing with what is really an extant problem, and they recognize that the system that we’ve had in place, that the patterns of migration that we’ve had have serious problems associated with them.
And they’re both committed — and I want to emphasize both committed — to trying to work through those. After all, for Mexico, also, Mexico and President Fox have laid out a vision that says one day people ought to find work in Mexico — if NAFTA really takes hold, if free trade really takes hold, if the Mexican economy improves, Mexico would like to have circumstances in which it’s able to take advantage of its own talent. So this is a larger issue, but they are dealing with a migration system that they both recognize has problems.
Q Two questions. What did the Presidents say to each other about migration in their meetings, and what were they told in the Cabinet meeting? And secondly, this phrase, recognizing the contributions of undocumented workers — does that imply that they have earned some special treatment by virtue of the fact that they’re working in the United States?
DR. RICE: No, it does not imply special treatment. What it implies is that there are people who, as the President said, came here for reasons with which everyone can sympathize and have been working here in the country, many of them taking jobs that Americans will not take. There needs to be humane treatment and humane understanding and compassion for that. But as to what that means within the structure of any program that we might be able to come up with I think is something that still has to be worked out.
Now, as to what the two Presidents said to each other, remember that this is not a conversation that started today. This started really when they were governors, but when the President met at President Fox’s ranch, all the way back, shortly after his inauguration, they talked about this issue. And again, that conversation I think led to a series of meetings, headed by the Secretaries of State and the Attorneys General, but it also led to the principles that you will see when they release them tomorrow. So this has been steadily moving along. It’s going to continue to move along in a steady fashion. But they talked more about those principles.
The Cabinet officers then reported on the progress that they’ve made. Everybody is committed on this issue.
Q Dr. Rice, the trucking issue is still a sore spot. How deeply was this discussed, and do both Presidents see any solution to this problem?
DR. RICE: Well, the President thinks that the solution is to live up to our NAFTA commitments. He is someone who is absolutely firmly committed to trucking safety. And one thing that he and President Fox recommitted to in their meeting is trucking safety. As the President said, we don’t want unsafe Mexican trucks on our highways; we’re sure Mexico doesn’t want unsafe American trucks on their highways; we both have an obligation on safety. And so this is a President who is committed to safety. He also believes, though, that the legislation which passed is not attuned with our NAFTA commitment, and he’s made very clear he does not support it.
A follow-up? Yes?
Q Another important subject is the economic situation in Latin America. With the U.S. economic situation not being so well, Mexico is affected, but you also have a major problem in Argentina which is causing contagion to Brazil, even to other Latin American countries. Did they discuss the economic situation of the hemisphere?
DR. RICE: They discussed the region, they discussed the economic situation in the hemisphere. Indeed, the President talked about his desire to make sure that we do everything that we can to regenerate growth in the United States, which, after all, is a problem for the region if the United States is not growing. And, of course, his — both his fiscal and monetary policies are aimed at doing his fiscal policies and the monetary policy of the U.S. Central Bank is aimed at doing exactly that.
The President mentioned the importance of fiscal and budget discipline in getting this done. He mentioned the importance of his tax cuts, and he is doing what he can to bring about strengthening the American economy. And that will obviously make it a lot better for all of Latin America.
They have talked on several occasions about Argentina, which is in many ways the most immediate case. As you well know, the IMF made available the funds to Argentina with the understanding that Argentina is going to carry out its zero deficit program, and also that Argentina is going to look hard at its debt sustainability issues. And there was a kind of joint agreement that that is extremely important, and that they will be supportive of Argentineans trying to do that.
Q Dr. Rice, were you aware that President Fox today, at the ceremony, would lay down the challenge that immigration reform must be done this year?
DR. RICE: As I said, we were aware that this was an objective of President Fox. And so, the President shares the desire to do this as quickly as possible, but to do it right. And we’re going to work as fast as we possibly can to get it done.
Q It sounds like while you oppose general amnesty, you are seeking a way in which at least a portion or a fraction of the illegal Mexicans in this country now will ultimately gain legal status. Now, the President has said there’s a way to do that without being unfair to Mexicans and people from other countries who have followed the rules and have tried legally to immigrate. But it seems to me, by the very definition, even if only a small portion of illegals are granted legal status, isn’t that unfair to those who have followed the rules?
DR. RICE: Well, one of the principles is that there be a sense of fairness and keeping intact a legal system for immigration. There are a lot of details to work through here. This is a very complicated set of issues. And I just want to remind everybody, this is a set of issues that, of course, the President has a deep commitment to. He also wants to work, and needs to work with the Congress on this issue, because it’s an issue that’s important to the American people at large.
So there are complicated issues to work through. I’m not going to try to guess prior to exactly how this will all turn out, except to say that the principle of fairness is there.
Q To follow up, isn’t this really more than a detail? Isn’t this the very fundamental nub here? In other words, for each illegal immigrant that’s granted legal status, that displaces a would-be legal immigrant from getting into this country?
DR. RICE: A lot is going to depend on what kind of mechanisms we design, what kind of programs we design to deal with this problem. But let me just remind everybody that the migration of structure as it is now is not functioning in a way that these Presidents are comfortable with. And we do have undocumented people in the country, and that’s a reality.
So they’re going to try to deal with all the various very complicated and interrelated aspects of this to come to something that is more humane, something that works for the American economy and for the Mexican worker, and something that will hopefully put us on a better footing. And Mexico, I think, in President Fox’s statement, also accepted some responsibility for trying to stem the flow the other way. And President Fox not only accepts that responsibility, but I think has a vision of how to do that by improving conditions in Mexico. We shouldn’t lose sight of that, as well.
Q One of the other challenges in President Fox’s speech this morning was that by the end of the term of the two Presidents, there would be no more undocumented Mexicans in this country. That implies, obviously, perhaps some going back, but some process or some of the undocumented Mexicans in this country would obtain some kind of legal status. Was that, a, raised in the discussions again in the Cabinet meeting and, b, what — is that something that the U.S. is committed to now?
DR. RICE: There have been discussions of all of these points by the various Cabinet secretaries and, indeed, the Presidents, themselves, have talked about how to make this work better. But what I think you really have to understand is that we understand the complexity of this issue, and we understand that there are a lot of interrelated and moving parts here.
And so, the Presidents have set out a goal. And that goal is that they want a system of migration that is more orderly, that is more humane, that serves the interest of both countries and their peoples better, and they’ve made a lot of progress by putting out principles from which their folks can now work.
The specifics of how this will work or what the end state will look like, I think we have to work through. But I just want to repeat to you: It is highly unusual in the history of the United States and Mexico to have this so high at the top of the bilateral agenda between Mexico and the United States. That, in itself, is a big step forward.
Q I’m just get clarification that one of the goals is to deal with those undocumented workers who are here in this country now.
DR. RICE: Obviously, we are going to have to do something to try to deal with what is an established fact, which is that there are undocumented workers in the United States. Exactly what that means, what mechanisms you can use, how you can deal with it, I think has to be left to the discussions. But the Presidents are committed to doing something that works better than today, and that is humane, and that does serve the economic interests of both sides of the border.
Q If I can shift gears a little bit, there’s an article in the paper today and in Time Magazine this week that talks about the diminished role of Cabinet members in this administration; Secretary Powell, in particular, and you as a rising star and your influence with the President sort of overshadowing them. What’s your reaction to that?
DR. RICE: I think people have too much time to sit around worrying about such things. Colin Powell is the Secretary of State, not me. Colin Powell is the person who is the chief diplomat for the United States. He is the principal voice on foreign policy. He is someone who the President respects and listens to all the time. He has been a national security advisor, so I think he understands my role in trying to make sure that the government is coordinated in what it’s doing, and in making certain that the President has what he needs to make good decisions.
But nobody should, by any means, be confused here. I’m not the Secretary of State. The President doesn’t need two secretaries of state. He’s got a very fine one. He’s got one of stature. He’s got one whom he respects, and who is respected at home and abroad. And there should be no mistake about that. Colin Powell is the chief foreign policy diplomat and chief foreign policy figure in this administration.
Q I just wanted to get clarification on just this one point. When you said you were aware that President Fox had this objective, in answering that way it seemed to me that you still were surprised that he brought it up this morning the way he did.
DR. RICE: We knew he was going to bring it up during this meeting. Do we sit and — did he clear our remarks and we clear his? No. But I am telling you that we knew that this was an objective of President Fox’s.
Yes? Final question.
Q One of the principles that’s been laid out or talked about is the impact that this might have on American workers as well. Can you shed any light on how the administrations are trying to figure out what sectors might be affected, what labor groups might be affected? I mean, I know you may not have reached conclusions, but can you shed any light into how you’re trying to sort through that particular aspect?
DR. RICE: It’s one of the important issues to be examined, to be dealt with. I mean, there has been a lot of work already by labor and by INS on where people end up in what sectors, what sectors are underserved by American employees. You know, we are not going to reinvent the wheel here. There’s a lot of research on this, and it will be brought to bear.
The President is absolutely determined that this is something that works for both sides. And that means that it should be something that works for the American economy and American workers, as well as improving the plight of Mexican workers.
But I just want to say that a healthy and functioning American economy, and a healthy and functioning Mexican economy, is going to make all of this quite a bit easier. It is in the interests of the United States to have a migration system in place that can help to marry up workers with employers where that is necessary, and we’re working very hard on it. But it doesn’t have to be invented from scratch; a lot of this is already known.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Q Anything on drugs?
DR. RICE: I think that it’s fair to say that there was a rather ringing endorsement of the cooperation on counternarcotics, on the changed attitude in Mexico about concerns about the high profile criminal element in drug and counternarcotics. And for our part, Attorney General Ashcroft sounded a lot of satisfaction with the cooperation that he’s getting.
Thank you very much.
At the state dinner on the evening of September 5, 2001, Presidents Bush and Fox gave the following remarks from the state dining room at the White House.
PRESIDENT BUSH: It’s my honor to offer a toast to the — our guests from Mexico. After I do so, President Fox will offer a toast, and then Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles, California, will offer to bless the meal.
Mr. President and Mrs. Fox, on behalf of the American people, Laura and I welcome you to the United States and to the Casa Blanca. (Laughter and applause.)
This is not only a state dinner, it’s like a family gathering. The most important ties between your country and mine, Mr. President, go beyond economics and politics and geography. They are the ties of heritage, culture and family. This is true for millions of Mexican and American families, including my own.
The Mexican people have changed and enriched America. Together, our nations are now working to strengthen the Americas. A long border lies between us, but it does not divide us. Nearly one million people cross that border every day; a quarter trillion dollars worth of trade crosses it every year. Because of the visionary NAFTA agreement of 1994, the trade between us crosses in ever greater freedom. That’s a benefit to both our peoples, and a model to the world.
A sound foreign policy begins by ensuring the safety and security of the neighborhood we share. A good neighborhood is made by good neighbors. And good neighbors work as we are working, with shared obligations and mutual respect.
Mr. President, you and I are keeping the pledges we made in Guanajuato this past winter, to expand the freedom of trade, to build an equitable prosperity, and to honor the rule of law.
We have before us a great prospect, an era of prosperity in a hemisphere of liberty. In this task, our cooperation is broad and unprecedented; our sense of trust is strong, and it’s growing.
A century and a half ago, another occupant of this house, Abraham Lincoln, paused in the darkest hour of this country’s history to send a word of hope to Mexico. Lincoln knew how closely the fates of our two countries were linked. And he never lost faith in the character of our two people. In April of 1861, he directed his Secretary of State to tell Mexico of his high respect for the heroism of their people, and above all, their inextinguishable love of civil liberty.
My message to the Mexican people is the same. The respect of my nation endures, and it deepens. The United States has no more important relationship in the world than our relationship with Mexico. Each of our countries is proud of our independence, our freedom, and our democracy. We are united by values and carried forward by common hopes.
And so, Mr. President, speaking friend to friend, partner to partner, neighbor to neighbor, I offer a toast to you, to your gracious wife, and to your great nation.
(A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT FOX: Well, tonight I have a few words here, but this is so warm, so friendly, so inspiring, that I just want to address directly to the President of the United States, his wife, our friends.
I was recalling five years ago when we met at the Governor’s Office in Texas. You gave me a baseball. (Laughter.) I don’t forget that. (Laughter.) I don’t know what was the purpose. (Laughter.) Maybe you didn’t see a future on your friend. (Laughter.) At least in politics. But I did see a leader. I did see a person which is very close to Mexico; a person that has in his heart, Mexicans, Mexican families. And of course, he’s got in his heart his own people, the people of the United States.
Later on, we had the pleasure to meet again at the University of Texas. And there, we spoke about plans. We spoke about the future. And again, the visionary leader showed in that conversation.
We were just the two of us together in that university. And to me, it was motivating. To me, I came back to Mexico to do my work, knowing by that time that we had a friend.
And then, we met again. We met again in Rancho San Cristobal. The home of all of you and the home where we again spoke about concrete plans, actions that we will take, responsibilities that we would assume. And then again, I had the feeling that we were making true commitments, that we were working together to enhance the relationship between the United States.
We were talking as friends, as neighbors, and then as partners — as partners looking for prosperity to both of our nations. And there, I did feel that I was talking to a man that was not only committing to follow on what we were discussing, I was talking to a man of word and a man of action, because from then on, meetings after meetings developed among our working teams. Every day, communication; every day, discussing; every day, coming with new ideas; every day, thinking about the families and the people of our countries. Every day, building up for the future. But also, every day, following up; every day, making sure that things would happen.
So we not only have in common that we wear boots, Western boots. (Laughter.) We not only have in common that we like to go to rest to our farms. We have in common that we like to see things happen. And I learned to see President Bush as a man of action, as a man of word, and as a man of results.
And this is what makes me sure, confident that we are going to build a future; that we are going to come up with answers to migration; that we are going to come with answers to confront organized crime on the international arena. And I am sure now that we will develop and grow together; that we will enrich both of our societies; that we will move with success into the 21st century; that we will write this success story that we both have in our minds, not only for the United States, not only for Mexico, we dream about extending that success story all throughout Latin America, combatting poverty, including everybody to development, building human capital. And this is our dream, and this is something we are going to be building up and working every day since we met.
So I am really honored, pleased to be here, close to my friend, Jorge. I wish you the best of the best. I wish you success. God bless all of you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Presidents Bush and Fox gave the following remarks on the South Lawn of the White House on September 6, 2001, before both men left Washington, DC.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you very much. The President and I are about to get on Marine One, and then Air Force One, and fly to Toledo, Ohio. I look forward to a joint appearance in the heartland of America. We’re going to have a great day in Toledo.
We had a great day here yesterday as well. Not only did we have a successful state dinner last night, but we had a series of meetings that confirmed our close relationship and built on our trust. As I said, Mexico is an incredibly important part of the United States’ foreign policy. It is our most important relationship, because Mexico is our neighbor, and neighbors must work together. And we do.
We’re confronting a series of opportunities and issues. Over the past hours, we discussed the importance of NAFTA, not only between Canada and Mexico and the United States, but free trade throughout the hemisphere.
We discussed a variety of issues that relate to trade. Trucking is an issue about which we had a long discussion. Mexican trucks ought to be moving in the United States; I call upon Congress to take that provision out of the appropriations bill, otherwise I will veto the bill.
We talked about some commodity issues that we have faced. We had an issue on avocados, for example. For those of you avocado lovers, you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve solved that problem, and I believe the President is pleased with the progress we’re making.
When we trade as much as we do, there are going to be issues that inevitably arise. And we will deal with those with mutual respect and honest discourse.
Secondly, I’m pleased to report that we’ve made great progress in cooperation in fighting crime. The President told me yesterday about some additional criminals who have been arrested in Mexico. This is a crime-fighting president; he is dedicated to working with our law enforcement officials to interdict drugs and guns, and coyotes on the border. And Mr. President, I appreciate your effort.
Our Congress ought to change the decertification process that, to me, sends the wrong signal to our friends to the south. To have an annual certification process really, I don’t think is fair to Mexico, and I think it’s counterproductive, and I hope they change the law on decertification.
And finally, an area that has gained a lot of interest, because it’s an important issue, of course, is the issue of migration. We’ve had a lot of frank discussions on migration. We share a lot of principles. One, that we both recognize how important the contribution to our economy the Mexican workers have made; that we want people treated with respect; that we both have a mutual and shared responsibility to make sure our border is safe, and that we enforce the border; that I hope to come forward with a program that will pass the Congress, that deals with guest workers with some sense of normalization. And I would like to do that as soon as possible.
There’s obviously a sense of urgency in the President’s message. I hear that sense of urgency, and my administration is willing to work as hard as we possibly can to get something done in a constructive fashion.
Mr. President, I think this is a continuation on the road for trust, respect, and cooperation. And I want to thank you very much for your coming here. I appreciate so very much you bringing your beautiful wife. I look forward to our trip to Toledo, and then our dinner tonight at the Blair House with the President.
PRESIDENT FOX: Okay, I will not have much more to add on this summary of what great has been these two days to us Mexicans, and to us in Mexico. The trust factor, no doubt that is key. And these two days have been a great opportunity to advance in our conversations, in our frank speaking — all of this aimed at increasing that trust
And for the rest, I’m fully recognized and totally honored on the warm reception we have had, on the opportunity, extended opportunity, to discuss and dialogue on different issues and matters with President Bush. And so to me, if I would describe this, it’s a process — a process that started back in Mexico in our first formal meeting, a process that has continued on an everyday basis by our working teams. And this I would call a station, one first station which has been this state visit to the United States, where we had the opportunity to review the issues, to advance on each of the issues, and to keep on the commitment to work hard for the coming months and the coming years.
So that’s totally satisfactory to us. I really thank the American people for the warm welcome we have had, and specifically from Mr. Bush and his lovely wife, the attentions we have had are just something that we — over-exceeded any expectations that we would have had.
Q Mr. President, even with this sense of urgency on immigration, tell me how difficult it will be to get a deal in the next year. And when you do give legal status to undocumented immigrants, how will you justify that action to the millions of Mexicans still waiting in line for legal entry, and the millions more people who are living in this country now after plowing through the legal process?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Right. Ron, you’ve just identified one of the complexities of the migration issue. I explained this to President Fox, that there are many in our country who are undocumented. And we want to make sure that their labor is legal. And so part of the issue is how do we match a willing employer with a willing employee, to recognize the value of the work, and to legalize that part of the process? And that’s where we need to think creatively on a guest worker program.
I mean, the truth of the matter is that if somebody is willing to do jobs others in America aren’t willing to do, we ought to welcome that person to the country, and we ought to make that a legal part of our economy. We ought not to penalize an employer who’s trying to get a job done who hires somebody who’s willing to do that kind of work.
So that’s part of the complexity. The second half of your question really does point out another problem that we have to work through. And that is there are — one of the things I have told the President is I am willing to consider ways for a guest worker to earn a green card status. And yet I fully recognize there are a lot of people who have stood in line, who have said, I’ll abide by the laws of the United States. And we’re trying to work through a formula that will not penalize the person who’s chosen the legal route, and at the same time recognizes the contribution that the undocumented has made.
That is part of the reason I say this is an incredibly complex issue. It is complex to the point where my administration is going to spend a lot of time on resolving that type of question. But to make matters even more complicated, we’ve got to work with the Congress, and we’ve got to come up with a solution that Congress can accept.
Now, I fully understand President Fox’s desire for us to expedite our — to come up with a solution quickly, to expedite the process. And we’re going to do that. I think one of the useful parts of this visit is for me to be able to sit down face to face and to talk about why this is a complex issue within the country. That’s precisely part of the issue.
Q You don’t sound like you can get it done in four months, though.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, he’s asked that we do it within the year. One thing he will find is that we will put 100 percent effort into it during the year. And I hope we can come up with a solution; I want to accommodate my friend.
He’s got a very important role to play, and that is as a spokesman for Mexican nationals living in this country, as someone who is deeply concerned about their future, their lives. And I completely understand that, and I can assure the President and the people of Mexico, we have heard his call. He is a strong, forceful leader, and we will do everything we can to come up with a solution to this complex problem.
Q Mr. President, along those same lines —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Him? Which President? (Laughter.)
Q President Bush, I’m sorry.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Here we go again, six to nothing. (Laughter.)
Q Sir, could you be more specific as to whether or not, among the set of issues, or the set of values or principles that you share on immigration, you share specifically the goal of finishing this negotiation by the end of the year? And —
PRESIDENT BUSH: I share the idea of working as hard as we possibly can. Listen, we came — the President came to Washington — I’m sorry to interrupt you.
Q Well, I’m sorry. I just wanted to say —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Actually, I’m not sorry to interrupt you. I did it — it’s an old trick here. (Laughter.)
Q I just wanted to ask you if — what would the United States want to see in return. Something —
PRESIDENT BUSH: In return?
Q In return for this negotiation, and for maybe regularizing a number of Mexican illegals, Mexican immigrants in the United States.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think — first of all, I think that — I don’t think we ought to view this issue necessarily as a quid pro quo issue. This is an issue that we must confront regardless of a Mexican response. This is an employment issue in the United States.
We’ve got employers who can’t find workers and therefore, then, employ undocumented workers. And under our law that’s illegal. And it seems like to me we ought to have a direct and honest assessment of reality. But we are getting what we wanted from Mexico regardless of the details of this particular issue, and that is strong cooperation. That’s all we can ask.
And the President has been very forward-leaning in working with us on a variety of matters, including better border enforcement and making sure we find those coyotes who are gathering illegals or undocumented folks and trying to run them into our country for profit. I can’t think of anything worse. And yet, this administration and this government and our governments are cooperating very closely on ferreting out those people who are willing to prey on innocent hard-working people, and stop that kind of activity. That’s the kind of cooperation we expect and we’re getting.
Q Mr. President, why are you abandoning the Clinton Administration’s attempt to break up Microsoft? Will this help consumers? And did you sign-off on this decision?
PRESIDENT BUSH: He’s asking about a legal matter, Mr. President.
During the course of the campaign and throughout my administration, I have made it abundantly clear that on issues relating to lawsuits, on-going lawsuits, that I expect the Justice Department to handle that in a way that — in a way that brings honor and thought to the process. I respect and hold our Attorney General in high esteem and I honor the work he’s done. And I’m going to leave it at that.
Q You’re satisfied with the decision?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I am satisfied with the fact that John Ashcroft is doing a fine job as the Attorney General.
Q (Asked in Spanish.)
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in Spanish.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, he said, “President Bush’s tax cut came right at the right time.” (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, on that same rough subject, when you met with Republican leaders this morning, did you promise them, as they describe it, that no — that every dime of Social Security will be protected? Does that mean you will not sign any bills that even temporarily take from it? And President Fox is welcome to take a swing at that, too.
PRESIDENT BUSH: He probably doesn’t want to. I told the Republican leaders, like I told Mr. Daschle and I will tell Mr. Gephardt tomorrow, we can work together to avoid dipping into Social Security. I have repeatedly said the only time to use Social Security money is in times of war, times of recession, or times of severe emergency. And I mean that. I mean that.
I think it is best for me to start working in a cooperative fashion with the members of Congress, start by saying let’s work together to make sure that our budgets don’t cause us to dip into Social Security. And of course I’ve always got the ultimate way to make sure we bring fiscal sanity into Washington. That’s what we call a veto, Mr. President.
But rather than come from the negative perspective, my attitude as we begin the fall session is to say we can work together, let’s do so.
I will repeat to the American people, there is ample money coming into our government to fund our priorities. And what we need is fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. The tax cut that we passed was a very important move to make sure our economy begins to gather momentum and grow.
The President knows what I know: when our economy is ill or slow or not meeting expectations, it affects our neighborhood. He’s getting blamed for something that’s taking place in America, and that’s not fair. And so our tax relief plan is part of an economic growth package.
I urge the Congress to pass an energy package. That’s a job creation package. That’s part of economic growth. I urge the Congress to pass trade promotion authority. If people are interested in growing our economy, so that there are more jobs available, then they ought to not only herald the tax relief plan, they ought to be thinking about how to pass an energy package and a trade promotion authority package as well. That’s important for growth. We ought to be thinking, in Washington, D.C., how to grow the economy.
Now, I realize, Mr. President, sometimes there are second-guessers in the political process, and there are some in Washington who appear to be second-guessing the tax relief plan. My guess is, is that they probably want to raise taxes. If they’re against relief, the fundamental question is what they’re for. And I suspect, if they’re against one thing, they must be for raising taxes. And my argument to them is that would hurt the economy.
The best way for us to continue economic growth is to have a pro-growth plan in place, and have fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. I look forward to working with the members of both parties to insist upon and implement a package that is fiscally disciplined. And we can do that, and I’m confident we can do that.
Q (Asked in Spanish.)
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in Spanish.)
Q (Asked in Spanish.)
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in Spanish.)
Q President Fox, I’d like you to talk about trucking? Trucking? The trucking issue?
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in Spanish.)
MR. FLEISCHER: This way, Mr. President. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you.
Presidents Bush and Fox gave the following remarks at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, in the early afternoon on September 6, 2001.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all very much. Governor, thank you very much. It’s a great honor to be back in Ohio. Today, I come bringing a special visitor, un amigo de mio y tambien un amigo de los Estados Unidos. (Applause.) It’s an honor to bring a good friend of mine and a friend of our country, President Vicente Fox, to Ohio. I have the honor of introducing him. But before I do so, I wanted to introduce him to Ohio.
Mr. President, Ohio is an extraordinary state. It’s a state full of decent and compassionate and hard-working people. (Applause.) Not all the wisdom exists in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) There’s a lot of wisdom in towns like Toledo, Ohio. And it was my honor that the President had accepted not only the invitation for the first state dinner I had as your President, but agreed to travel with me to the heartland. So I want to thank you all for a warm welcome. (Applause.)
I want to thank so very much the leadership of the University of Toledo and the students who are here, the faculty that have made this event possible. Thank you for your hospitality. Mr. Mayor, thank you for your hospitality, as well. It’s a thrill to be traveling with members of the United States congressional delegation, some of whom do what I tell them to do — (laughter and applause) — some of whom are a little hard to persuade, but all of whom love America. (Applause.) And all of whom bring honor to the office they hold. Thank you all very much for coming with me today. (Applause.)
I’m very proud to be traveling with one of my Cabinet Secretaries, a man who is doing a fabulous job at HUD. His name is Mel Martinez. When he was a young boy, his mother and daddy put him on a boat — I guess it was an airplane — to come to America from Cuba. They weren’t ever sure whether they would see him again. They were sure, however, they were sending him to a place that loved freedom, a place where you can be anything you want to be in America. Today, this good man is in the Cabinet. It shows what a wonderful country we have and shows what a great man Mel Martinez is. Thank you for coming, Mel. (Applause.)
We’ve got distinguished members from the Mexican delegation traveling with us. We’ve got ambassadors traveling with us. And we’ve even got the Treasurer of the United States traveling with us. My friend, Rosario Marin, is now the Treasurer of this great country. Please welcome her and all of the members of the Mexican delegation, as well. (Applause.)
We just had a really good visit in Washington. It was a commitment to friendship. It’s important for my fellow Americans to understand my foreign policy, and it starts with this: Good foreign policy says you want your neighborhood to be peaceful and prosperous. A good foreign policy starts with being friends with your neighbors. We’re friends with our neighbors to the North, and we’re very good friends with our neighbors to the South, the Mexicanos. (Applause.)
Friends hold each other with respect, treat each other with respect and hold each other in high esteem. And the speaker I’m going to introduce is a man I hold in high esteem. Friends are willing to have honest dialogue. And we’ve had a series of honest dialogues over the last 24 hours, had a frank discussion.
But this isn’t our first discussion; we’ve been discussing common opportunities and common problems for months. And as a result, our relationship has never been better and never been stronger.
I know there are some in this world and our country who want to build walls between Mexico and the United States. I want to remind people, fearful people build walls. Confident people tear them down. And I’m confident that a strong relationship — (applause) — and I’m confident that good neighbors and a strong relationship is in our nation’s best interests. I’ve seen it firsthand — trade between Mexico and the United States has grown to a quarter of a trillion dollars. That means jobs in the United States and as importantly, that means jobs in Mexico.
There’s a lot of discussion about trade. I can’t tell you how hopeful trade is and how important it is. It’s not only important for job-seeking Americans, it’s incredibly important for Mexico to grow and to prosper, to develop a middle class for people in Mexico to be able to find work close to home.
Oh, I know there’s a lot of talk about Mexican laborers coming to the United States. But I want to remind my fellow citizens of this fact: Family values do not stop at the Rio Bravo. There are mothers and dads in Mexico who love their children just as much as mothers and dads in America do. And if there are a mother or dad who can’t find work, worried about food on the table, they’re going to come and find work in America.
And what we want to do is to have a trading relationship that encourages job creation in America, but job creation in Mexico, as well. We want Mexico to grow a middle class so the citizens of Mexico can find work to feed their families just like the citizens of America can find work to feed their families. (Applause.) We’re talking about migration issues. It’s a complex subject, but one that this country of ours must confront and have an open dialogue about. And we’ve made good progress on that important issue.
I want to tell you, President Fox is doing everything in his power to fight crime and drugs; and we’re cooperating with him. But I also want to remind my fellow Americans it’s important to fight the supply of drugs. But we have an obligation inside this country to fight to reduce the demand for drugs, as well. We need to tell our children, don’t use drugs. Make the right choices in life. (Applause.)
We’re working hard on environmental issues on our border. But our fellow citizens must understand that there’s more than just economics that is important, or crime-fighting that’s important in our relationship with Mexico.
We share values with Mexico. They’re common values — values that unite people, whether they live in the United States or whether they live in Mexico. And what are those values? Faith. The strong value of faith exists in our country. As a matter of fact, I think it’s the strength of America in many ways, and it exists in Mexico as well. The love of family. It’s incredibly important for the future of our country. It’s a strong value in the Mexican culture.
The willingness to work hard. America is known for our ability to work hard. Think about the Mexican worker who walks 500 miles across a desert to find work. Those are hard-working citizens. We share that very important value of people willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard. No, we’ve got incredibly important relationship. It starts with leaders being willing to have open dialogue.
We’ve got something in common, by the way, that you probably haven’t thought about. President Fox’s grandfather was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. My grandfather was raised in Columbus, Ohio. (Applause.) I guess you could kind of say we’re Ohioans. (Applause.) Except it’s kind of hard to tell by our accents. (Laughter.)
Not only do we share background, we share love for our respective countries. The first trip I took to foreign soil was to Guanajuato, Mexico, to visit President Fox on his ranch. By the way, I kind of like going to mine on occasion, too. And this is a man deeply committed to his country. He loves the people of Mexico. And I hope by now there’s no question that I love the people of America, as well. (Applause.)
President Fox and I share the desire to do what we think is right for our countries. I think both of us are tired of the policy driven by polls and focus groups. I don’t need a poll and focus group to tell me what to think and where to go, and neither does he. (Applause.) We both are doing in office what we said we would do. I told the people, by the way, that if they gave me the chance to be the president, the first thing I would do is remember whose taxpayers’ money we’re talking about when we’re talking about budgets. The tax money up in Washington, that’s not the government’s money, it is the people’s money, and I’m proud to report we’ve got the largest tax relief package in a generation. (Applause.)
We both are dedicated to educating — to making sure our children are educated. President Fox shares the same passion I do about good schools and good quality education. He knows what I know — that an educated child is one much more likely to be able to realize the dreams of our respective countries. That’s why I’m hopeful Congress will quit talking about an education bill, get one out of conference committee, so I can sign a good reform package to make sure public education fulfills the promise of our schools. (Applause.)
One of the things in Texas we like to say — here’s a good man. I hope that sums up how I feel about our speaker and guest. This guy is a good man, un buen hombre.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome el Presidente de Republicano de Mexico, Vicente Fox. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT FOX: My friend, George Bush, is making things very tough for me. He’s a great friend of Mexico. He’s a great friend to Mexicans in the United States. He is a great friend for truth, work, commitment and the passion for the art of government. (Applause.)
Each day, I gain more and more respect for his leadership, for his vision, for his hard work. Each day, I gain a better understanding between us, and there is more agreement between us. And for that reason, I daily thank him for his friendship and for this friend who works for his people. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I can feel right here the enthusiasm, the warm welcome, which you generously are giving to us. Your welcome has moved me, and I’m convinced once again that no matter where fate may lead us, we Mexican men and women continue, united, through bonds that are extremely strong. (Applause.)
It is a great pleasure to be here in this university, accompanied by President George Bush, Governor Taft, who have honored Mexico in having me come up as first foreign head of a state to visit the United States during this administration. And I also wish to thank for the invitation to come to Ohio, because I feel among friends — me siento entre amigos. (Applause.)
I had the privilege of dialoguing and speaking with President Bush in the last 24 hours, and this morning I had the honor to address the United States Congress. In both, I have exposed our firm conviction that trust shall be the foundation of our relationship; that trust will be the cornerstone of increasing the relationship between the United States and Mexico; and that, based on trust, we can work better for solving with efficiency, with talent, our mutual challenges that we face on this 21st century. (Applause.)
Today, I want to tell you that in Mexico, we do not ever forget our beloved countrymen. Not only do we not forget them, but we also recognize with pride that we have learned so much from you — from your courage, your determination, your perseverance and your valor. And I want to tell you not only that we love you and respect you, that we need you back in Mexico, that we will be working to welcome all of you back in Mexico to promote the growth about a great nation and to work together to construct a better future for our country. (Applause.)
I know of the trying experiences that have been of our beloved countrymen and women, and I have heard exemplary stories of men and women who inspire us deeply. And we are proud of them.
We are going to visit the Aurora Gonzales Community Center, which will allow us to know more about the life of an untiring defender of community solidarity here in Toledo. We’ve also heard of the work of so many other members of this community who, with great generosity, find time to help those who need support, guidance, or simply a word of encouragement.
How many stories could be told of the lives of so many Mexican men and women who, one day, decided to leave their country, to come here seeking new opportunities in this great nation. How many stories of hard work and of sacrifice. One of these is the story of Rosario Marin, an exemplary Mexican who came to this nation at the age of 14 and who recently was appointed Treasurer of the United States of America. (Applause.) We are proud of her efforts and her success, as well as we are proud of all Mexican women that work day by day in this country, and that contribute to its greatness and to its success. (Applause.)
This land of opportunity, the United States, has always kept its door open to countless immigrants from all over the world, remaining true to its founding principles. Let me quote President Bush’s remarks, who recently said that “the United States has traditionally been a welcoming society, where immigration is not a problem to be solved, but a sign of our confident and successful nation. History supports that assertion, because more importantly, we see the proof of that in the innumerable contributions that migrants have made over the last two centuries to the rich and varied American culture.” (Applause.)
Today, we’re not only neighbors, we’re not only friends, we are partners through the commitment we signed with NAFTA. We are partners to work together, building a better future for both of our nations. NAFTA has been successful. It has created jobs in Mexico. It has created jobs in the United States. (Applause.)
Today, as a consequence of NAFTA, the trade balance between the United States and Mexico, as was mentioned by President Bush, has reached $250 billion U.S. But the most important part of it is that we buy and sell, and that today, Mexico is buying products and services from the United States more than France, Italy, Spain, and Germany are doing together. That is being partners. (Applause.) That is creating jobs.
It is a time for commitment and hard work. Let us not pass lightly over the countless sorrows and exemplary efforts of so many men and women that we call migrants. We must find the resolve, the necessary act, and act quickly so that we can find shared solutions to these common problems.
We have had two great days here in the United States. We are honored and we are totally satisfied with the conversations we have had, with the decisions we have taken. No doubt that, together, we’re building a better future for both of our nations. (Applause.)
In the field of migration, or in drug trafficking and combatting organized crime, where we have been rendering extraordinary results, we have extradited criminals that the U.S. justice has been after more than whatever was done in past years.
With this trust and cooperation, we are gaining the battle against organized crime and drugs, and same, as well, we’ve done on the subject of economic development on building of opportunities. Mexico today, on the border states and the border cities, has unemployment rates of one percent. And we want to make that true and happen on the center and the south of Mexico. (Applause.)
We know and understand very well our commitment, our obligations, which are to make sure that every family, that every person within Mexico, has the opportunity of a decent job with income that is enough for living with dignity; that it is our obligation to make sure that every single kid and young person in Mexico has the opportunity to go to intermediate school or to university. This is why we have created a scholarship system through which every single kid in Mexico has the guarantee to comply with his personal project of education. Up to university level he has the guarantee of that scholarship if his problem is the lack of enough economic resources. (Applause.)
Every kid that takes this opportunity of going to school and university in Mexico, certainly will stay there with his family. It will not become a migrant.
So, dear friends, amigas y amigos, we face a challenge that may seem formidable. But so is our determination to overcome our differences and reach common ground and attain a common purpose. This is a unique time in our history. I feel privileged to belong to this age and to be able to play an active role in building a new partnership between Mexico and the United States. (Applause.) We are at the dawn of a new century, full of possibilities and new horizons. This can be the century of the major accomplishments for our two nations. This 21st century is the century of the Americas, and, of course, the century of North America. And we know — and I want to address — Mexican communities in the United States will have our support.
I came here to Toledo, Ohio, first because I had this invitation from President Bush, but also because I wanted to meet with our own people. And I wanted to tell my paisanos in this part of the United States that my friend, President Bush, and myself will work not only for your cause, but also for the cause of the United States and the cause of Mexico. (Applause.)
I return home very motivated for the way we have been received, for the way we have been listened, and for the much accomplishments — the many accomplishments that we have had in these few hours that we have been here in the United States. More than ever, we have the conviction that working together, having trust of our philosophy, there is no limit to what we can do. And that is well-expressed here in the United States.
This, the largest economy in the world, this, the most powerful nation, has been able to reach its high objectives because of the work, because of the passion, because of the intense sacrifice that many, many millions of people do every day to make this nation great and big.
For us in Mexico, today we know that we have friends, that we have a partner, and that we have a better future for us and for our people.
Thank you very much to all of you, and God bless you. (Applause.)
At the end of the three-day state visit by the president of Mexico, Presidents Bush and Fox released the following joint statement.
The three-day State Visit of Mexican President Vicente Fox to the United States celebrates the special friendship and authentic partnership that has been achieved by new leadership in the United States and Mexico. Mexico.
This first State Visit of the Bush Administration highlights the mutual trust and respect between our two Presidents and governments. It also testifies to the unequaled priority both Presidents attach to a practical and cooperative approach to the common opportunities and challenges we face as the well-being and prosperity of our peoples becomes increasingly intertwined in our shared North American community. This results-oriented approach, and the commitment to shared responsibility and partnership undergirding it, are already generating unprecedented levels of cooperation throughout our rich and diverse relationship.
With trade and investment between the United States and Mexico at record levels, the Presidents took stock of the success of NAFTA in bringing economic growth and development, and with it higher wages, more jobs, and lower prices for our citizens. They stressed the need to abide by the provisions of our free trade agreement and agreed to the importance of vigorous measures to ensure that the full benefits of economic development and trade are extended to all regions of Mexico.
To serve urgent environmental priorities in the border area, the Presidents agreed that immediate measures were needed to strengthen the performance of the North American Development Bank (NADBank), and its sister Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC), to identify and fund environmental infrastructure projects on the border. Presidents Bush and Fox agreed that a binational working group — which will consult with national legislatures, border states, communities, and other stakeholders — will develop joint recommendations and report back to the Presidents by October 31, 2001.
The Presidents praised the success of efforts to heighten cooperation on legal issues as a major step toward enhancing the rule of law and protecting public safety. They highlighted growing cooperation against migrant smuggling and other organized transborder crime, including a new agreement signed September 5, 2001, on sharing forfeited assets seized as a result of joint investigations. They praised in particular the growing trust between our law enforcement agencies that is making it possible to broaden the scope of cooperation in this area. Presidents Bush and Fox also expressed their support for new and more effective national and multilateral measures to increase international cooperation against drug trafficking. Specifically, they expressed support for the Organization of American State’s ?Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism? as a promising example of such measures. In this regard, President Bush reiterated his Administration’s commitment to work with the U.S. Congress, on a priority basis, to replace the annual counter-narcotics certification regime with new measures designed to enhance international cooperation in this area.
These and other areas of bilateral engagement were highlighted in an historic joint meeting of the U.S. and Mexican Cabinets on September 5. That session enabled the Cabinet-level chairpersons of our Binational Commission, streamlined and reinvigorated following the Presidents? meeting in Guanajuato, Mexico in February 2001, to report on the specific steps achieved since then to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
Their reports testified to the breadth of our relationship and to the progress we are achieving in countless areas that directly benefit the quality of life of our people. Examples of other items covered in the reports include: ? measures to improve safety and protect lives along our shared border; ? means of facilitating better coordination on border issues; ? a new agreement on food safety; ? steps to enhance cooperation on renewable and more efficient energy resources and cross-border interconnections; ? a major new scholarship program ($50 million) focused primarily on economic development disciplines; and ? regional cooperation to strengthen democracy and prosperity in the Western Hemisphere.
President Bush and President Fox also had a frank discussion about water resources and the importance of living up to our mutual treaty obligations in this regard. They agreed that in the future this could be well served by greater cooperation aimed at more effective watershed management and improved infrastructure, including formation of a joint advisory council.
The Presidents reviewed the progress made by our joint working group on migration chaired by Secretaries Powell, Castaneda, and Creel and Attorney General Ashcroft and noted this represented the most fruitful and frank dialogue we have ever had on a subject so important to both nations. They praised implementation of the border safety initiative, and recognized that migration-related issues are deeply felt by our publics and vital to our prosperity, well-being, and the kind of societies we want to build.
They renewed their commitment to forging new and realistic approaches to migration to ensure it is safe, orderly, legal and dignified, and agreed on the framework within which this ongoing effort is based. This includes: matching willing workers with willing employers; serving the social and economic needs of both countries; respecting the human dignity of all migrants, regardless of their status; recognizing the contribution migrants make to enriching both societies; shared responsibility for ensuring migration takes place through safe and legal channels. Both stressed their commitment to continue our discussions, instructing the high-level working group to reach mutually satisfactory results on border safety, a temporary worker program and the status of undocumented Mexicans in the United States. They requested that the working group provide them proposals with respect to these issues as soon as possible. The Presidents recognized that this is an extraordinarily challenging area of public policy, and that it is critical to address the issue in a timely manner and with appropriate thoroughness and depth.
To help address some of the root causes of migration, they agreed to form a public-private alliance to spur private sector growth throughout Mexico. This ?Partnership for Prosperity? initiative will harness the power of free markets to boost the social and economic well-being of citizens particularly in regions where economic growth has lagged and fueled migration. The development of this alliance will be spearheaded by senior-level coordinators on both sides, and will draw on the best expertise among Mexican and U.S. economists, business people and civil society to develop a concrete plan of action to be presented to the Presidents not later than March 1, 2002.
The Presidents expressed their strong support for the launch of a new round of trade negotiations in November at the WTO ministerial.
Both Presidents agreed that U.S.-Mexican relations have entered their most promising moment in history. Our governments are committed to seizing the opportunities before us in this new atmosphere of mutual trust. The depth, quality and candor of our dialogue is unprecedented. It reflects the democratic values we share and our commitment to move forward boldly as we deepen this authentic partnership of neighbors.