Sept. 19, 2014, "Ex-Mexican president Fox says immigration reform would help U.S. stay competitive," Dallas Morning News, Mercedes Olivera
"If U.S. policymakers would get moving on immigration reform, our economy could easily add half a million or more additional workers willing to do jobs most Americans won't.
And that would help our country stay competitive on a global scale. It all boils down to this: “The U.S. has a loyal partner in Mexico.”
That’s the message that former Mexican President Vicente Fox will stress when he speaks Wednesday at a World Leaders Series event that will also feature former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.
The event is part of this year’s 75th anniversary celebration of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is another in a series organized in Dallas-Fort Worth by Fox and political adviser Juan Hernández.
In a phone interview Thursday, Fox pointed out that Mexico imports $300 billion worth of U.S. products annually, making it our second-largest trading partner. Canada is the largest.
He also stressed that the three largest U.S. automakers have survived by building full assembly plants in Mexico. It has become a magnet for the world’s largest auto manufacturers, including Ford, GM and Chrysler. Most have built or will build plants there.
Critics point out that low wages in Mexico have not climbed much and that the gap there between the very rich and the very poor is the highest in Latin America.
But Fox remains optimistic that within 15 years, the wage disparity between the two countries will disappear. When that happens, he said, “we’ll have a harmonious border, and migration becomes non-existent.”
In the meantime, he said, the U.S., Canada and Mexico could build a more solid economic bloc if U.S. leadership, from the president on down to Congress, would move faster on immigration reform. President Barack Obama should be more “drastic” in his approach, Fox said.
Days before the events of 9/11 brought U.S.-Mexico immigration policy to a standstill, Fox had met with congressional members, and “everything was ready to go,” he said.
Now is the time to go back and revisit the idea of a free flow of people, as well as trade, he said.
Rick Ortiz, chairman and CEO of the Dallas Hispanic Chamber, said the chance to host the World Leaders Series was a natural fit for the organization.
The series will offer a perspective on “our region’s role on the global stage, and globalization’s impact on our region,” Ortiz said.
And the oldest Hispanic chamber in Dallas is primed to play a role in facilitating greater business connections between the two countries as investment opportunities open up in Mexico again.
Some of those opportunities will be in energy and technology development, two areas that Fox said would also benefit Texas companies.
He said he strongly supported the Mexican government’s decision to open up the country’s energy sector, which has been government-owned and -run for more than 75 years.
“This will create new opportunities and new jobs, and also further narrow the income disparity between the U.S. and Mexico,” he said.
“Instead of building walls, we should be building bridges.”"