Union Tribune

May 10, 2002 

Fox subdued on migration issue

By Jerry Kammer 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

NEW YORK – Mexican President Vicente Fox, apparently
choosing the counsel of aides who had urged him to avoid a spat
with Washington instead of the advice of others who wanted him
to speak out forcefully, took a low-key approach as he talked
about the lack of progress in binational negotiations on
immigration.

Fox's speech last night to the Council of the Americas, a group
that advocates free trade and open markets, was closed to the
media.

According to a summary of the speech provided by the
government, Fox did say, "There cannot be a privileged
relationship between the United States and Mexico without a
real advance in substantive matters on our bilateral agenda. And
there cannot be a substantive advance without taking on the
issue of migration."

He called for the legalization of "the millions of undocumented
Mexican workers who are already in this country. That would be
the acid test of our true commitment to a new and lasting
relationship."

Fox also taped an interview with PBS talk show host Charlie Rose
for broadcast tonight. 

An observer of the Rose interview said Fox took a subdued
approach as he talked about the slow pace of immigration
negotiations with the United States. Fox has been taking
criticism in Mexico for failing to obtain concrete results from the
talks.

Until Sept. 11, the talks appeared to have built momentum
toward an agreement that would include an expanded guest
worker program and some form of amnesty for many Mexicans
working illegally in the United States.

Fox indicated to Rose that although he understands Washington
has been preoccupied with the war on terrorism, he hopes the
Bush administration will now place higher priority on the
negotiations with Mexico, the observer said.

Fox came to New York to participate in the U.N. special session
on children.

One expert on U.S.-Mexico relations said last night that there
had been a sharp division among some of Fox's closest advisers
about whether he should use the occasion to signal Mexican
frustration about the talks.

"There were two groups, one that wanted him to raise his voice,
the other that wanted a more diplomatic strategy," said Rafael
Fernández de Castro, a political scientist in Mexico City.

"It looks like the diplomatic solution won out and that is good
because Washington doesn't take criticism well, especially
during a war," he said.

Copley News Service Mexico City bureau chief S. Lynne Walker contributed to
this story.