By MALENA OGLESFormer Mexican President Vicente Fox addressed questions of immigration, the U.S. economy and the future of his country Thursday evening during a question-and-answer session at The University of Texas at Tyler.
Representing the National Action Party, Fox was elected the 62nd president of Mexico in July 2000 and served until 2006. The presidential election in 2000 was the first time in 70 years that the Revolutionary Institutional Party candidate was defeated, and it was the first presidential election since the end of the Mexican Revolution to be generally considered competitive and fair, according to a UT Tyler statement.When addressing questions about concerns over the number of illegal immigrants pouring into Texas and the United States from Mexico each year, Fox compared the migration to U.S. citizens traveling to China, India or other countries looking for jobs.
While Fox said he supports immigration, he does not support unlimited, unregulated or disorderly crossing.
"We need to make this a win-win situation," he said.
He supported allowing immigrants already employed in the U.S. to continue working here.
Fox criticized President Bush for saying the issue will be handled "tomorrow" and said he can only hope the presidential candidates will consider the issue.
"There is too much of a discrepancy between those who have too much and those who have nothing," Fox said. "The market economy has been the best way for creating wealth but not for closing the gap in poverty."
Fox said the way to reduce the poverty gap is through "powerful social policies."
Fox said the value of the U.S. dollar contributes to immigration from Mexico to the United States. He said that, years ago, workers in the U.S. made $10 for every $1 made in Mexico; now, that has fallen to $5 for every $1 in Mexico.
Fox was one of the few presidents of Mexico to avoid a major economic upheaval during his term in office, according to UT Tyler, and left his successor without any currency devaluation. According to Banco de Mexico, inflation rates during Fox's term went from 11 percent in January 2000 to 4.05 percent at the end of his term.
"What would be better for the United States having a healthy successful neighbor in Mexico," he said.
When asked if the U.S. should look at forming a North American Union with Canada and Mexico similar to the European Union, Fox explained the benefit.
"Today, being on your own, isolating yourself, building a wall is not the way to grow, develop or improve citizens' quality of life. Today not one single nation can survive on its own, not even the mighty powerful U.S.," he said.
Fox said that, to continue to have open markets and facilitate investments, a "wall needs to be torn down."
"We all remember Sept. 11. It was a sad day and none of us would like to see it happen again, but that is not a good explanation for building a wall," he said.Fox was the featured speaker of the Drs. Lawrence L. Anderson and Svetislava J. Vukelja Lecture at The University of Texas at Tyler's R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center.