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Issue of the Week: Border talks

Headline Photo

Illustration by Josh Hagler


Thursday September 6, 2001

President Bush invited President Vicente Fox of Mexico to be the first guest of a State dinner at the White House yesterday. The most important issue between the two presidents will be immigration.

In the past, Fox has said that he would like to see the United States give amnesty to every Mexican now working illegally in the United States. He has said, recently, that he will fight to see that every Mexican who is working and paying taxes in the United States will get his labor and other rights respected.

In the past, Bush has shown interest in offering some amount of protection to migrant workers through work-visa programs. However, lately, he has said there is no support in Congress for offering amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Some people feel that any program that legalizes Mexican labor in the United States will turn what is now a migration into a flood. Others believe that Mexican immigrants have been treated poorly by U.S. employers and unjustly by the U.S. government.

At the end of this summit, the United States and Mexico could lay out dramatic changes to their current border policies. The changes could have an especially drastic affect on border-states like Arizona.

The truly noble thing to do

The fact that President Bush is working closely with President Vicente Fox is great. The fact that immigration is the top priority of their meeting is extraordinary, but their motivations are suspicious.

The roughly 3 million migrant workers who come in and out of the United States are treated despicably. They get paid terrible wages, often lower than minimum wage. They receive no benefits and no support, and many of them crawl across the desert, risking their lives to do it.

Some people think President Fox is pushing this issue because he's a good guy who cares about his citizens, and they are probably right. But he's also doing it out of political need. He promised to revive his nation's economy, and that's turning out to be harder than he thought. He needs U.S. dollars to make their way into Mexico, and that's fine - as long as he doesn't forget the people.

Bush, on the other hand, is trying to grin his way to the next election. He wants Hispanic votes, and he knows that he can get some if he acts as if he's going to do something about the border problem.

Bush can't forget the people because he never had the people in mind.

All he seems to care about is re-election. How noble. The truly noble thing to do would be to forget about his polls, his advisers and his re-election, and try to do something for a group of people in our country who are being treated miserably.

Cory Spiller is a history senior. He can be reached at

Alien is never the right word

As I sit down to write the issue of the week, the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, and the president of the United States, George W. Bush are having a very important chat.

And they're not using the word alien.

The discussion is about human beings: Mexican citizens who have felt it necessary to leave $3.50 per week jobs to find $3.50 per hour jobs in the United States to feed their families. The United States guesses that there are 3 million people who fit under this category, but that's probably a low-ball figure.

The two men are also tiptoeing around the word "amnesty." Amnesty is a dirty, dirty word that would give these workers way more privileges than America is willing to let them have. After all, we have always been a nation that creates and mistreats second-class citizens.

But the phrase "worker-program" is being tossed around because of two things: Fox's need to look after the welfare of his people, and Bush's surprisingly intuitive recognition that the U.S. economy thrives upon this very labor.

The U.S. economy was founded upon free slave labor that created a cotton market that the government then taxed. Free labor is what made this filthy rich nation. And it's cheap labor that now keeps us on top. With this in mind, one can only wonder what goes on inside Fox's interior monologue as he is forced to come to Washington, D.C. to discuss our corrupt behavior in civilized tones.

Today, perhaps a little progress can be made. At the very least, Fox is brilliant and an excellent orator. It will be a Fox 101 crash course in presidency for W.

Laura Winsky senior majoring in Spanish and political science. She can be reached at

Headline Photo

Illustration by Josh Hagler

Bush must send the right message

Vicente Fox has put George W. Bush in an intriguing situation. Fox has been a popular president to this point but is now seeing his support dwindle due to a lagging Mexican economy. Fox feels he has to do something that will be seen as positive in the eyes of his citizens in order to regain that spark.

So, essentially, Fox wants his people to know that there's hope north of the border. This is why he's pressing Bush to allow these millions of illegal aliens to legally stay and work in America. Fox is well aware that Bush would probably like to do better among Hispanic voters in 2004. Bush received 31 percent of the Hispanic vote last year, which isn't bad for a Republican, but could certainly be improved.

If Bush allows these illegal aliens to stay, he and Congress are well aware that this will encourage more of our neighbors down south to flee their country. This would eventually lead to more federal spending in the form of social programs for the poor, something that Bush is undoubtedly not interested in.

If he doesn't grant them amnesty, he can count on an even fewer number of votes from Hispanic Americans next time around. Although the Hispanic vote is very small in this country, we've all learned from the 2000 election that even a few thousand votes can decide the outcome.

Obviously, the only way out of this is a compromise: Send as many illegal aliens back as possible, but allow them to eventually return by making it easier to obtain legal documentation to live in America in the near future. It's the only compromise that sends the right message to both countries.

Shane Dale is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at

Go where the money is

So, what I don't get is why President Fox is so concerned with the Mexicans in this country when he should be more worried about the ones in his own country, you know· Mexico.

My only guess is that he is aware that the recent employment decrease in Mexico is largely due to the current slowdown in the U.S. economy. He is aware that Mexico owes us a good deal of water due to a loan we gave them for a recent draught. He is aware that Mexico's agriculture crisis is largely due to the increase of U.S. imports.

He is also aware that if a good deal of his unemployed come here for work, not only will there be less of them in Mexico, but the money they make here will end up flowing into the Mexican economy when they start spending it there. An increase in money will eventually solve all of these problems.

He understands this, and his people understand this, even if it is on a level as basic as: Go where the money is. If the border was opened up in any way, there would definitely be an increase in immigration.

But who cares? The money is here, which means the jobs are here. If there weren't jobs lying around, they wouldn't come here to find them.

"But what happens when they start taking our jobs?"

They are largely doing the jobs that most Americans don't want anyway. Don't worry, this country is still far too discriminatory to give away any of the good jobs.

Zack Armstrong is a creative writing senior. He can be reached at

Welcome to Mexica

The U.S. Border Patrol has completely missed some 3 million Mexican migrants already.

Yesterday, Bush and Fox were in Washington drinking cocktails and debating over the immigration of workers between Mexico and America.

Perhaps if they had sat in the 110-degree desert, their perspectives might have been different.

The situation is not unique. When a first-world nation borders a third-world country for 2,000 miles, there is going to be a hint of jealousy and the lure of opportunity.

The result: Mexica. It is a geographical blend of two countries that basically live together.

Tucson is a city within this Mexica. Just travel from the top of Fourth Avenue all the way down into the city of South Tucson. The name Joe will change to Jose within just a few miles.

Mexican migrants already contribute to a huge chunk of the grunge workforce in this country. Most of these jobs are tasks that for some reason the average American wouldn't want to do anyway. Why not let them have the job without having to risk their lives getting it?

It can be explained with simple economics. But, how about simply having a heart for our neighbors?

Placing water oases in the desert to help desperate people isn't going to help. Nor is placing a stationary Border Patrol unit on the highway.

The only solution is to share the wealth.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science junior. She can be reached at


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