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US and Mexico Looking for a Resolution by Paul Heimel For the first time in American history, a President is placing Hispanic voters at the center of politics. George W. Bush has his administration have recently been concerting their efforts towards unifying the United States and Mexico, a task that has been on the priority list of past Presidents, but never as full-pledged as Bush. It makes sense if you think about it: Texas, long ago and far away, was part of Mexico. Now a Texan is trying to reassemble the Old Country, and then some. In a major step towards finding a resolution, President Bush invited Mexico’s newly elected President, Vicente Fox, to the White House State Dinner. During Fox’s three day visit to the states, a number of matters were discussed. The first, and most important to Mexico, is the issue of immigration. In a recent study by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, there are as many as 8.5 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today; 54 % came from Mexico. In a public announcement, Fox stated, “We must and we can reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year which will allow us before the end of our respective terms to make sure that there are no Mexicans who have not entered this country legally in the United States, and that those Mexicans who have come into the country, do so with proper documents.” Fox’s announcement put some heat on Bush, who has faced fierce pressures from within his own party against amnesty for undocumented workers in the US, and pressures from Democrats and Hispanic groups in favor of a color-blind amnesty policy covering all Latinos, not just Mexicans. At the state dinner, Fox said he believed his nation and the United States could come up with a solution together. “We are going to come up with answers,” he said, referring not only to immigration, but international crime. “I am sure now that we will develop and grow together.” But Fox’s comments prior to his visit to the country tells a much different story. He admitted that sweeping immigration reform would take years, probably beyond a first Bush term in office. And Bush had signaled that he is not ready to push immigration reform plans. “Immigration is a very complex subject,” Bush told reporters on the eve of the visit. Fox has requested special treatment for Mexicans, but Bush said, “I have explained to him there is no appetite for blanket amnesty in Congress.” Granting legal status to illegals faces significant challenges in Congress, where many contend breaking US laws should not be rewarded--particularly as people from other nations make their way through the lengthy legal immigration process. Bush was forced to back away from earlier statements on immigration reform. He suggested in July the administration was considering granting permanent legal status to up to 3 million undocumented Mexican immigrants. Now he says he favors a more modest guest worker program, that would allow illegal immigrants to work here legally. Fox has had his own problems getting reforms passed by Mexico’s legislature in a rocky year in which his upset election brought a new political party into power for the first time in seven decades. But his soaring popularity has begun to slip, as he promised providing 1.2 million new jobs to Mexicans, and the number of unemployment has actually increased. North of the border, Bush has found a ray of light coming from the Senate. Recently, they passed a bill that will extend the deadline for illegal immigrants to apply for visas by one year. This timely effort will undoubtedly serve as a message to Fox, indicating that the US is serious about the negotiations with Mexico. It also opens up a flood gate that could elicit many improvements to the immigration process in the near future. Word Count: 647

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