Bush, Fox focus on Mexican immigration
Mon Mar 8 02:36:19 2004
Bush, Fox focus on Mexican immigration
By Richard Tomkins
UPI White House Correspondent
Published 3/6/2004 3:05 PM
WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- Mexican immigration to the United States featured
prominently in talks Saturday between President George W. Bush and Mexican
President Vicente Fox, but it remained unclear if the administration would drop
plans to force frequent Mexican visitors to undergo fingerprinting and
The rule, part of the $367 billion US-VISIT program to enhance border security,
has offended the Mexicans, who point out that frequent Canadian visitors are
"The president and I just discussed the issue of the border crossing cards and
... the professional visas," Bush said at a news conference at his Prairie
Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas. "We're making progress."
U.S.-Mexican relations soured in 2002 when administration intentions to deal
with contentious border issues were elbowed aside in the wake of the terrorist
attacks on New York and Washington the launch and prosecution of the war on
terrorism. The low point came the following year when Mexico opposed U.S.
military action against Iraq.
The US-VISIT program, administered by the Department of Homeland Security at
places of entry into the United States, was instituted to better monitor track
visitors to the country, some of whom could be potential terrorists.
In January Bush proposed a guest-worker immigration reform proposal to tackle
the problem of illegal immigrants to the country. Most of the 8 million plus
illegal immigrants are believed from Mexico.
Under the proposal, foreign workers could apply for temporary 3-year worker
visas for jobs that cannot be filled by U.S. citizens. Those accepted would be
granted full legal labor rights, be allowed to travel to and from their home
countries, and would be able to renew the visa at least once. Eventually,
however, they would be expected to return home.
Those now illegally in the United States and working would be eligible.
Bush's proposal immediately ran into a firestorm of criticism. Republicans on
Capitol Hill and advocates of restrictive immigration branded it as a form of
amnesty for illegal aliens. Democrats and others pushing a blanket amnesty for
illegal workers branded it insufficient and an election ploy to snag Hispanic
According to the 2000 Census, people of Hispanic origin constitute the
single-largest minority group in the nation.
"I put forth what I think was a very reasonable proposal and a humane proposal
that is not amnesty but in fact recognizes that there are good, honorable,
hard-working people here doing jobs here Americans won't do," Bush said
"I certainly hope the Congress takes this issue up, but there is no telling
what's going to happen in an election year."
The United States has pressed Mexico to do more to police its side of the
2,000-mile border to curb illegal crossings by Mexicans who cannot find work at
home. Fox has sought a quid pro quo for doing so.
Fox and his wife arrived at the president's ranch late Friday afternoon and were
Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, had earlier
indicated the administration may be willing to alter the finger-printing and
photograph rule for frequent Mexican visitors, perhaps even scrapping them for
those who stay no more than three days and go no farther than 25 miles from the
Bush Saturday also rejected criticism over his use of images from the 2001
terrorist attacks on the United States in television campaign ads, which began
appearing in some 16 states last Thursday.
Some family survivors of victims of the attack on the World Trade Center slammed
Bush for using an image of the rubble at the Trade Center and a scene of firemen
in the rubble, saying it was improper and capitalizing on tragedy for political
Among those quoted was an official of a firefighters' union that had endorsed
the presidential attempt by Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
The Democratic National Committee put out a number of the condemning statements
in a news release early Thursday morning.
Bush Saturday, following up on earlier administration statements that the
attacks were a shared national experience, indicated he saw nothing improper in
using the briefly flashed images in his 30-second commercials that tout his
leadership in confronting the nation's challenges.
"I will continue to speak about the effects of 9/11 on our country and my
presidency," he said. "I will continue to mourn the loss of life on that day,
but I will never forget the lesson that terrorists declared war on us that day,
and I will continue to pursue the war."
Discussion of the attacks and the ongoing war against terror, he said, were
suitable subjects for discussion and "I look forward to discussing that with the
American people. And I look forward to the debate on who best to lead this
country in the war on terror."
Since the initial Democratic broadside against the advertisements, number of
other of people who lost loved ones in the attacks have spoken out in favor of
the use of the images.
Bush also used his appearance before reporters with Fox to plug for Congress
making permanent his tax cuts, which he said was spurring economic recovery from
recession. Failure to make permanent provisions such as marriage penalty relief,
increased child tax credits and expansion of the 10 percent tax bracket would be
tantamount to raising taxes, he said.
Bush was traveling to Dallas and Houston Monday before returning to Washington.
On Thursday and part of Friday he was in California, trumpeting his agenda and
raising campaign funds.
Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International
Bush, Fox reaffirm political, personal relations at meeting
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