- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

President Bush will resolve the issues raised by continuing high rates of Mexican immigration in a way that's "legal, safe, and humane" but does not expect a major agreement for next week's summit with Mexico's president, the White House said yesterday.
Mr. Bush has ruled out a broad amnesty for illegal Mexican aliens, a position Press Secretary Ari Fleischer reiterated yesterday while downplaying the possibility of a breakthrough treaty when Vicente Fox visits the White House.
In the first White House press briefing since Mr. Bush's return from Texas on Thursday, Mr. Fleischer explained that the talks between Mr. Fox and Mr. Bush will not result in a proposed treaty but in what he called "a series of principles, or a framework."
Mr. Bush himself used the same analogy in an interview with reporters from Texas newspapers.
"What you'll see is for us to declare a set of principles involving immigration," Mr. Bush was quoted by Cox News Service as saying. Mr. Fox "is not interested in designing a legislative package on this trip, and I would be the first to tell him now is not the time to design a legislative package."
The visit is designed to show the importance the administration places on creating smooth, effective relations with Mexico, especially regarding immigration and the confidence the administration has in the Mexican president's ability to help resolve difficult border issues.
Mr. Fleischer defended the administration's cautious approach by citing the gravity of the issue and its sensitivity in Congress.
"This is such an important issue for Americans, for Mexicans, and for people from other nations, that when America changes its immigration laws [and] … makes clear … that we are a nation that welcomes immigrants, that it be done right and that it be done in a manner that can earn congressional support," he said
The administration's initial hints about granting amnesty and Mr. Bush's more-explicit support for a guest-worker program for Mexicans have roused considerable opposition in Congress and elsewhere. But as Mr. Fleischer noted yesterday, the president has heeded his foes' arguments.
The president, he said, "wants to be very sensitive to the people throughout the world, including in Mexico, who have applied to come to the United States and are waiting on a long waiting list to come here legally."
Besides, Mr. Bush is wary of rewarding undocumented border crossers for flouting U.S. laws, yet he wants to "make certain that if there is a willing employer who needs a willing worker, we have immigration policies that respect that arrangement. It's very complicated," Mr. Fleischer said.
In preparation for Mr. Fox's state visit on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Bush is taking pains to emphasize his great friendship for and understanding of the United States' southern neighbor.
"As somebody who grew up in Texas, as somebody who was a border governor, [the president] has a very deep understanding and a deep appreciation for the role that Mexico plays in America's economy, in America's culture, and America's heritage," Mr. Fleischer said. "He looks forward to welcoming President Fox in that environment."
The White House is lavishing praise on Mr. Fox for a turnaround in relations between U.S. and Mexican officials that has brought about increased cooperation in the fight to stop the smuggling of illegal drugs. However, that issue will be revisited Wednesday in private Oval Office talks between the two heads of state.
Also on the agenda for the summit are: a continuation of discussions regarding migration issues, law enforcement, the role of the North American Development Bank, water issues and the spat between the White House and Congress over the rights of Mexican truckers to roam America's roads.
Even though Mr. Fox and Mr. Bush have met five times in the eight months of the Bush presidency, Mr. Fox's state visit is the first such visit of the Bush administration
"President Bush wanted to invite President Fox for the first state visit as a sign of the importance he attaches to U.S.-Mexico ties. Mexico is a good neighbor of the United States. … Mexican culture and heritage, and the Hispanic heritage, is a very important and large part of the American tradition, and the president thought it was fitting," Mr. Fleischer said.
In another symbolic and unusual gesture, Mr. Bush's Cabinet will meet jointly with members of the Mexican Cabinet.

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