January 31, 2006
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
As recent weeks have demonstrated, border security and immigration are two of the most complicated and difficult issues in the great diversity of questions that arise in the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States. Today, in President Bush’s annual State of the Union address, the President spoke directly about issues that affect Mexico and gave his thoughts on ways to improve the lives of people in both our countries.
Click here to see the full text of the President’s State of the Union address
Click here to see White House fact sheets about the President’s address: healthcare, competitiveness, and energy.
President Bush stated tonight that, “We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy—even though this economy could not function without them. . . . Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty . . . allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally . . . and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.”
This statement clearly and succinctly outlines the U.S. position on immigration reform. Americans want a secure border, with open doors —a border that is capable of allowing the vast trade between our two countries at legal entry points and a border that allows Mexican workers to enter the United States to work legally on our economy.
Click here to read a full outline from November 2005 of the President’s immigration reform proposal in English.
I have had several very positive and what I think have been constructive discussions this week with members of President Fox’s administration about ways our two countries can cooperate to achieve what is important to us both. I also was very heartened by comments made recently by President Fox himself in which he said, “The relationship with the United States is very complex, very broad … it is a very long border, it is a very intense relationship in commercial, political, and diplomatic terms, very intense in all the other issues we have between our two countries and one should not get lost in day to day events because the relationship is much more profound and strong ... day by day those things which have to be attended to must be attended to constructively, positively, for the benefit of both our peoples.” I agree whole-heartedly with President Fox’s sentiments.
In any long-term and meaningful friendship, difficult discussions are inevitable. I have tried to speak openly and honestly these past few weeks about America’s need for a secure border and legal immigration. It is important to remember in our discussions on immigration that efforts by the United States to stop illegal immigration do not amount to an attack on immigration as a whole.
There is a common misconception that Americans are only thinking about security, and Mexicans are only thinking about immigration reform. The truth is the United States derives much of its greatness from its tradition of welcoming foreigners to our shores—and Americans continue to welcome those who come to work in compliance with our laws. As President Bush has so often said “family values do not stop at the U.S.-Mexico border”—and we are eager to facilitate the entry of those Mexican laborers who come to the United States, with visas, to earn money to support their families.
Equally, a desire to live in a safe and secure society does not stop at the border either. Mexicans, just like Americans, want to live in a peaceful and secure society where they do not have to fear for their safety or the safety of their children. Indeed, in recent months, Mexicans have taken to the streets to protest ever-increasing violence in its cities and along the border, and they want to see more done to fight criminals and break the chokehold that narcotraffickers and human-smugglers have on our border region.
I offer any and all cooperation our Government can provide in combating narco-violence and making our border region safe for our citizens, and I look forward to working closely with the Mexican people to achieve our common goals.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush also noted that alleviating poverty globally is one of his key priorities. He believes we can increase the wealth of our hemisphere through agreements to reduce barriers on the free flow of goods and services.
The President had justifiably harsh words for protectionists, who mistakenly believe the United States can maintain “its high standard of living while walling-off our economy.” He also criticized the view that the “government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes.” The President summed up protectionism as a form of “economic retreat…(leading) toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.”
I have addressed the importance of free trade to our region on several occasions. It is only through free trade and democracy that economies can flourish, opportunities can be increased, and strides can be taken towards moving people from poverty to hope.
As President Bush clearly set forth in his State of the Union, he envisions a hemisphere that is secure, prosperous, and democratic. The United States encourages free trade, respect for the rule of law, and democratic government because of the amazing transformations they bring across all levels of a society. We can and should work together towards a new vision of the Americas in which our people enjoy security and our economies flourish.
As always, I thank you for the opportunity to share with you the activities of our Mission in Mexico. May God bless Mexico and the United States.
With best wishes, I am,
Antonio O. Garza