A story in this morning's L.A. Times on the visit of Mexican president Vicente Fox answers my questions: Why Utah? Why Utah first?
Vicente Fox began his visit yesterday. Depending on your news source, the visit will last 3, 4, or 5 days. The consensus is that he will visit three states. But why did he begin in Utah and what does he expect to gain by entering a neighboring country and telling the Congress how to legislate and telling the citizens what they must do?
WEST VALLEY, Utah — Mexican President Vicente Fox kicked off a four-day U.S. visit Tuesday by decrying congressional proposals to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants in Mexico, saying that "we won't resolve this problem with fences, but hand in hand, working together."
Fox told a cheering crowd of 1,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans — some of whom had come from as far as Montana to hear him — that they helped keep the U.S. economy running and displayed the hard work and honesty that did their ancestral country proud.
"Even though you are far from Mexico, you are an integral part of Mexico," Fox said. "We will never forget you. We love you."
Fox's visit, which takes him to Washington state today and to meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles later in the week, comes on the heels of President Bush's proposal to station 6,000 National Guard troops at the border and amid growing frustration over illegal immigration..
Here it comes:
But, in a sign of the state's pro-immigrant nature, Fox got an ebullient welcome from the region's political elite Tuesday afternoon when he spoke at a community center in this Salt Lake City suburb. Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff, a conservative Republican who just won reelection, choked up as he praised Mexican traditions in fluent Spanish.
"It's a culture that shows the importance of family, in which parents teach and care for children," Shurtleff said to cheers. "It's a culture that teaches by example the importance of labor and work. These are values that, unfortunately, we are losing here in my country."
Utah's Republican governor, Jon Huntsman Jr., a former diplomat and trade official, invited Fox to the state during a trade mission to Mexico City last summer.
Fox on Tuesday praised Huntsman and the state government for being one of the few in the U.S. to allow illegal immigrants to pay the same tuition at public universities as legal residents, and for providing otherwise undocumented immigrants with cards that function as driver's licenses.
Claudio A. Holzner, a political science professor at the University of Utah and an expert in Mexican and Latin American issues, said Fox may be able to take advantage of his good relationships with state officials.
On an immigration or guest worker law, "it certainly allows him to have conversations with governors and local representatives at a time when it would be too delicate for him to try to influence the national debate directly. He's trying to influence the debate in a more low-key way," Holzner said.
In a luncheon speech to a business group in Salt Lake City, Fox touted Mexico's growing economy. He also met privately with state and Mormon church leaders.
In his speech to the crowd of immigrants, Fox spent as much time praising them and urging them not to forget Mexico as he did talking about immigration.
That reflects Mexico's dependence on its migrants, who send an estimated $20 billion home annually, making them the nation's biggest industry after petroleum.
"Over there, we wait for you with open arms," Fox told the crowd. "Your family is over there. Your family that appreciates and loves you. Your home is over there."
Someone needs to really talk to Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. He doesn't seem to get what a dangerous path he has chosen for his state, or perhaps he does. Perhaps trade is more important than national security.
I switched to a Salt Lake City newspaper:
Fox's address came before today's anticipated preliminary vote in the Senate on a sweeping immigration reform bill that could put millions of undocumented immigrants on a pathway to citizenship. Last week, the Senate voted to add 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border to the bill, and a House enforcement-only measure also calls for a border fence.
An earlier luncheon had been focused strictly on economic development, but Fox used his speech to some 800 people, many Mexican immigrants and grass-roots volunteers, to stress the importance of reaching an immigration solution that recognizes the dignity, hard work and contributions of all people.
While he spoke mostly in Spanish, Fox switched to English at times during his remarks.
"Mexico promotes new mechanisms that allow for a legal safe, orderly migration, respecting fully human rights and dignity," he said in English. "Mexico wants to be part of the solution, not of the problem."
He added that Utah's immigrants have a friend in Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who helped persuade other Western governors to adopt a resolution supporting comprehensive immigration reform. He praised the Utah Legislature for passing laws allowing undocumented immigrants to drive using a driving privilege card, and to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.
An hypocrisy, for the only dignity and human rights in respect to immigrants that Mexico is interested in is toward those that emigrate to other countries because of Mexico's infamous anti-immigrant program that shows no respect for anyone attempting to enter Mexico, illegally or legally.
So he's ready to talk...but he's not ready to listen. The majority of Americans don't want what he's selling and they're tired to being taken to cleaners and being treated as dopes.
What if Congress decides to a) make all those millions of "foreigners" citizens. (I am using the term "foreigners" because in Mexico anyone not born there is called a foreigner, and even if naturalized can never have same rights); or, b) gives a path to citizenship to the majority of these alien foreigners, would these foreigners instantly become loyal to the United States and forsake, let's say, Mexico?
Probably not. The likely outcome would be disastrous, giving a group, many of whom really dislike the United States and prefer their home country, a way of using the vote against the legitimate citizens in order to promote their ethnic and the interests of the home country.
What could make millions of Mexicans to take the trouble and expense of thousands of dollars apiece to get to the United States, to migrate into a culture that they profess to dislike, to work under unpleasant, serf-like conditions, to again face humiliation at the hands of Gringos that they feel robbed them of wealth and of territory in the 1840s? Would people of this mentality make good and loyal citizens?
Fox smugly has come because he knows the answer and he hopes that the Gringo Congress has been hoodwinked and will foolishly legislate themselves and the United States out of existence. "Fox no tiene cara," Fox is shamelessly promoting sedition. I doubt that he doesn't understand what he is doing. But of course, he's standing in for Mexican oligarchy that has created and probably funded this "spontaneous" Reconquista movement.
Update "Lonewacko" put me on to other links in his comments. One in a particular describes Utah Governor Huntsman participation on the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). (Be sure to follow the internal links.) Yet another traveller on the road to New World Order.
Out of curiosity? Did any of YOU sign up for this?