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Bush-Fox Discuss Immigration, Economic Cooperation - 2002-03-23

After the close of the United Nations Conference on Financing Development in Monterrey, Mexico, President George Bush held a private meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox. Immigration, economic cooperation and improvements along the border were the top issues discussed.

After emerging from their meeting, Presidents Bush and Fox went before reporters to discuss their shared vision for the 3,000 kilometer border that joins their countries. Mr. Bush said the two leaders had agreed on the basic framework for what he called a "smart border." He said this would include measures to stop drug smugglers and terrorists and facilitate the legitimate flow of people and goods.

President Bush also spoke of a joint effort called the Partnership for Prosperity whereby U.S. investment dollars can be directed to needy areas south of the border. "We will focus private investment on less developed parts of Mexico, creating more jobs and more opportunities for more people," he said. "President Fox and I are determined to make our shared border modern, efficient and secure."

President Bush also addressed the issue of immigration, noting that he had sent a bill to the U.S. Congress that would facilitate the process of legalization for some undocumented Mexican workers living in the United States. But the president did not address the more controversial issue of a general amnesty for the estimated three million Mexicans currently living illegally north of the border.

Mr. Bush said he would like to make it possible to match any willing employer with any willing worker in either country. But, he said, the ultimate goal should be to foster economic development in Mexico so that no one feels compelled to leave home for lack of a job or opportunity.