- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kicking off a three-day, three-state tour, Mexican President Vicente Fox yesterday stressed the need for greater cooperation between his country and the United States on issues such as trade, energy and security.

Mr. Fox did not mention the hot topic of illegal border crossing.

In a lunchtime speech to about 500 business, civic and religious leaders, Mr. Fox discussed his accomplishments during his six-year term, which ends this year, and promoted trade opportunities with Utah and the rest of the United States.

“The future of North America must guarantee great competitiveness, greater regional security, greater availability of energy, greater trade exchanges and, naturally, a greater well-being for all of its inhabitants,” said Mr. Fox, who also is scheduled to visit Washington state and California this week.

Mr. Fox is visiting while the U.S. Senate considers legislation that would strengthen border security, authorize new guest-worker programs and give an eventual chance at citizenship to most of the estimated 10 million to 12 million people living illegally in the United States.

This is growing frustration in Utah — where Hispanics are the largest minority group — about the wave of illegal aliens entering the state.The Minuteman Project, which opposes illegal entry, planned protests at the Capitol, where Mr. Fox is scheduled to address a special session of the Legislature today.

“I’d like to see Vicente Fox tell his people to respect the law and come here legally,” said Alex Segura, founder of the Utah Minuteman Project.

Mr. Fox also will meet privately today with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican who supports President Bush’s plan to send as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border.

Mr. Huntsman has said it is important for Mr. Fox to see firsthand the frustrations Western states feel when illegal aliens burden health care and prison systems.

Mr. Fox’s itinerary in Washington state later today and tomorrow includes a meeting with farmworkers, a dinner with the governor and breakfast with business leaders.

Also tomorrow, Mr. Fox is to address a joint session of the California Legislature and meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. Mr. Fox also is expected to meet in Los Angeles with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.


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