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Our Opinion: A Fox meets a Bush

February 19, 2001

It can only be good news for the Imperial Valley that U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox had a good relationship while both were governors and that both seem intent on making that relationship stronger as chiefs of state.

The two got together for a meeting in Fox's hometown Friday, and got along wonderfully again, according to all reports.

Bush, who speaks a decent amount of Spanish, and Fox, who speaks fine English, can communicate with each other without translators and can talk directly to the people of the other countries. Bush demonstrated his concern for Mexico and its issues by making it his first trip to another nation as president.

Bush is familiar with border and Mexican issues, having been governor of Texas, which became a model state in dealings with Mexico. Bush has proved that a pro-active approach in business and other dealings with Mexico can make things on this side of the border prosper.

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All of that is good news for us. Imperial County, which is plagued by the costs of illegal immigration and drug trafficking and tremendously susceptible to fluctuations in the Mexican economy, needs a strong Mexico to prosper. Mexico's economy has been relatively steady for the last few years, and Calexico and the rest of the Valley have benefited greatly in the retail and housing sectors. The Gateway of the Americas project at the Calexico Port of Entry is highly dependent on the continuing success and expansion of Mexicali's maquiladora industry, which has mushroomed in recent years. For Mexicali's industrial sector to continue to flourish, the Mexican economy must remain robust.

A strong Mexican economy also will mean lessening illegal immigration and fewer people dying in our deserts and canals, which is a tremendous financial and psychological burden on our county. If there are decent and decent-paying jobs in Mexico, more people will stay in their homeland.

Fox and Bush disagree on Fox's proposal for an open border. We agree with Bush. Until Mexico's economy can support the majority of its people, an open border would simply be too burdensome for our nation. Once the two nations reach more of an economic level playing field, such an idea might be realistic.

Still, it is good that Bush and Fox are working together, for the betterment of both nations.

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