For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 4, 2001
Second Press Background Briefing
On State Visit of Mexican President Fox
Senior Administration Official
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
2:07 P.M. EDT
OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. President Vicente Fox
arrives on the evening of September 4th at Andrews at 10:30
p.m. He will be met by the Chief of Protocol, Ambassador
Ensenat, and proceed to Blair House in a motorcade.
His official events begin tomorrow at
10:00 a.m., on September 5th, when he arrives at the White House for
the welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn. The President and
Mrs. Bush will greet President and Mrs. Fox. They will be
escorted into the White House, there will be a receiving line.
And then the President will escort
President Fox to the Oval Office and there will be a meeting at the
Oval Office at 11:00 a.m. The President will be accompanied
by several of his senior advisors. He will be accompanied by
the Vice President, he will be accompanied by the Secretary of State,
the Attorney General, the National Security Advisor, our Ambassador to
Mexico and the Senior Director for Western Hemisphere
Affairs. President Fox will be accompanied by an equivalent
group of his advisors.
Following the Oval Office meeting there
will be a joint Cabinet meeting at the White House, in the Cabinet
Room. This will be restricted to the Cabinet chairs of the
binational groups. There are 17 Mexican-U.S. binational
working groups. That number has been reduced to seven, on a
functional basis. They will cover the areas of migration,
law enforcement, counternarcotics, border affairs, trade and economics,
energy, global and social issues and foreign policy.
Q Who would
OFFICIAL: The two Presidents will preside over that joint
Q Thank you.
OFFICIAL: You're welcome. Following the joint
Cabinet meeting -- and I will talk a little bit more about the joint
Cabinet meeting after I finish this run through of the schedule -- the
President and -- the two Presidents will -- well, they'll say goodbye
to each other and President Fox will attend a lunch hosted by the
Secretary of State, at the State Department.
And two members of the Cabinet on each
side will be available to brief the press, to brief the media on the
substance of the Cabinet meeting.
Q The time for
OFFICIAL: The time will be 12:35 p.m, 12:40 p.m. or so.
After the State Department lunch,
President Fox will have things that he will be doing at Blair
House. There will be an awards ceremony for him, offered by
the National Endowment for Democracy, at the Capitol, at 4:00
p.m. After that, he will be doing Blair House, his schedule,
And then President and Mrs. Fox arrive at
the White House for the State Dinner at 7:30 p.m. There will
be toasts at the beginning of dinner. There will be entertainment
Q Who is the
OFFICIAL: I will get you her name. She's an opera
singer from New York and she's very good, and I will provide you her
name -- but all of a sudden, I have a lapse of memory, and I didn't
write it down. (Laughter.)
The following day, after President Fox
will have a series of events at Blair House and beyond, at 11:00 a.m.
he will address a joint session of the Congress of the United States.
Q This is Thursday
OFFICIAL: Thursday, September 6th. Following the
address to the joint session, he will meet with the Vice President in
his Capitol Hill office, that will be 11:30 a.m.
President Fox will come back to the White
House and on the South Lawn, prior to the departure for
Toledo. He and President Bush will have departure statements
-- and I understand that Ari announced that there will be an
opportunity for questions.
At 12:35 p.m., they will depart the South
Lawn via helicopter for Andrews, and at 12:55 p.m. they will depart
Andrews en route to Toledo, Ohio.
In Toledo, they will be welcomed at the
airport by the Governor of Ohio and other Ohio legislative and state
leaders. They will proceed to the local university, where
there will be an opportunity for the two Presidents to speak to
Hispanic groups who will be there -- some 5,000 or so people.
Following the remarks at the University,
the two Presidents will return to the Aurora Gonzalez Community Center
in Toledo, for a tour of that center. It's called the Aurora
Gonzalez Community and Family Resource Center. That takes
place at 4:15 p.m. They depart the Center at 4:45 p.m.; they
depart Toledo at 5:25 p.m., arriving back at Andrews at 6:35
p.m. And at 8:00 p.m. there is a private dinner, hosted by
President and Mrs. Fox, at Blair House, in honor of President and Mrs.
The following day, President Fox has a
morning and through luncheon program here in Washington, which is his
own. It includes a speech to the Organization of American
States and a luncheon speech at the International Institute of
Economics. And he departs Andrews after lunch for Miami,
where he will participate in the Miami Herald Conference, the annual
Miami Herald Conference.
I'd like to say something about the events
of Wednesday, particularly the joint Cabinet
meeting. Following the meeting of the Presidents in
Guanajuato, Mexico, in February, the two countries agreed to streamline
and to upgrade the binational center commission, which is a grouping of
17 high-level agencies of the two governments that work on a common
agenda of issues.
At that time, they decided -- the two
Presidents decided to reorganize the approach in order to reflect kind
of an executive approach of both Presidents, and their desire to effect
-- to strengthen accountability, to strengthen effectiveness and to
enhance the problem solving orientation of the BNC.
As a result, the seven binational groups
will cover the following themes: migration, law enforcement
and counternarcotics, border affairs, trade and economics, energy,
global and social issues, and foreign policy. And the structure of the
Cabinet meeting, for the bi-national Cabinet meeting, is for each group
to make a presentation to the Presidents. And only one
member of the group will make the presentation.
For example, on migration, the report
issued to the two Presidents will be given by Secretary of State
Powell. On foreign relations -- no, excuse me, on border
affairs, the report given to the two Presidents will be made by the
Mexican Foreign Secretary, Castaneda. The law
enforcement/counternarcotics working group will be reported on by the
Mexican Attorney General.
The trade and economics working group will
-- the report of the trade and economics working group will be handled
by USTR and Agriculture, that is Ambassador Zoellick and Secretary
Veneman. The energy working group report will be provided by
Secretary of Energy Abraham. The bilateral cooperation
working group report will be provided by the Mexican Commissioner for
Social Development and Mexico's Environmental Minister.
And, finally, the last report is the
foreign policy report, jointly chaired by the Foreign Secretary of
Mexico and the Secretary of State, and Secretary of State Powell will
provide that report.
So, seven reports. The U.S.
side will provide four, the Mexican side will provide three.
Q The migration one
OFFICIAL: Powell. As you know, it's the Secretary
of State and the Attorney General on the U.S. side; and on the Mexican
side the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of Government, who form
the working group.
At the end of the meeting, two members --
the heads of two separate working groups on both sides will be
available to the press to report.
Q Do you know which
OFFICIAL: We're working that out. I have a good
idea, but I am not able to announce it right now. We have to
nail that down with the Mexicans.
Q Early on,
President Fox and President Bush both raised expectations that there
would be a fairly near-term modification to the immigration laws, to
accommodate to some degree the Mexicans who work in this country now,
undocumented. In recent days, President Fox has indicated
that that's now a four to a six-year proposition.
Number one, do you agree with
that? Does the administration believe it will take four to
six years to put that into place? And, number two, what
happened between last spring and now that changed the expectations on
OFFICIAL: What we have seen, as the working groups,
following the February meeting in Guanajuato, Mexico, undertook their
task, is a lot of work and a lot of energy dedicated to a very complex
and far-reaching issue. And both countries understand this,
and they recognize it, and are talking about it.
The President stated the other day that
there are three discussions going on at the same time on these
migration matters: one within the United States government;
another with Mexico; and another with the Congress of the United
States, simultaneously. The guiding principles in the
discussions have been a humane approach, to ensure that migration to
the United States is safe and legal and orderly and dignified; humane,
family-friendly, and at the same time respect the enormously valuable
role immigrants continue to play in building our own nation.
There is the issue of
fairness: any new system -- excuse me, any system -- must be
fair. Our most important obligation is to those who follow
the rules and those who abide by the law. The only path is
the legal path.
There is the issue of the protection of
American workers. An immigration system must not
disadvantage American workers. And we're talking about
supply and demand of labor in the United States, willing employees
matched with willing employers.
We're talking about a joint
commitment: the two countries must work together in an
authentic partnership -- and they are working together in an authentic
partnership -- to keep our borders orderly and safe, and to ensure the
integrity and the success of any new policy. And I would
like to say something about new efforts on the border that are a real
accomplishment over the past several months.
There has been discussion of temporary
workers' programs, something that would rest on this partnership
approach between the sending and receiving countries, something that
recognizes the contributions of undocumented Mexicans, and that brings
together willing workers and willing employers.
This is an issue that requires close
consultations with the United States Congress, and with the U.S. civil
society. All of this is going on. And the issue is complex,
and both sides are committed to working very hard toward practical,
workable solutions that satisfy the basic interests of both countries.
Q Is it that the
further you got in and realized that this was just simply too
complicated to be stated as a simple goal by these two leaders so early
OFFICIAL: If, in fact, you go back to the Guanajuato
statement, it was never conceived by either leader to be a simple
Q But did you get
in this process and realize that it was far more complicated than
OFFICIAL: I think that everybody realized it was going to be
a complicated process.
Q Then what changed
between February, when they met and said they would have some decisions
by September? The working groups' charge was to bring back a
plan of some sort, at least even in concept, by September. And now
it's clear that even that is not going to happen.
OFFICIAL: It would be a good idea to go back and read the
Guanajuato Declaration of February 16th on that subject.
Q Why? The implications were all that
that was what was going to happen.
OFFICIAL: The idea from the very beginning was to identify
the issue and to work very hard on it. That is exactly what
Q They were
supposed to report back to the Presidents in September.
OFFICIAL: They are. The Presidents are getting
reports back. There are seven binational
commissions. Tomorrow, the four will report to the
Presidents what the situation is on the migration question.
Q So this agreement
is going to take four to six years to get this in place?
OFFICIAL: We are in agreement that a lot of work has to be
done, and it is more important to do something that is good than
something that is fast.
Q Was the President
surprised by some of the opposition on the Hill when news of this plan
to -- workers, to give them a legalized status? Was he
surprised by some of the opposition by people in his own party?
OFFICIAL: The President always said that work on the subject
must involve close cooperation and close consultation with the Congress
of the United States. He said that from the very beginning.
Q Is there going to
be anything that takes specific notice of the fact that President Fox's
grandfather emigrated from Ohio to Mexico? Any meetings with
maybe old relatives in Ohio?
OFFICIAL: That's a question that's best posed to the
Mexicans, as opposed to us.
Q I understand that
the President always understood that there would be cooperation the
Congress needed. Was he surprised that there was a lot of
opposition from the Republicans on the Hill?
OFFICIAL: The President, I will repeat, always knew that the
issue of migration is a complex one. This was discussed
fully in Guanajuato, Mexico. Everybody understood it was
complex. The important thing is that there was determination
expressed and a structure established to work at this issue, and there
has been a great deal of work done since that time. It
continues even today -- there was a meeting on it -- and it will
continue in the future.
Q With what
result? What has resulted thus far from this work on this?
OFFICIAL: What has resulted? Much more sharing of
information about the subject; much more understanding of the points of
view of each other; much more understanding of projections of
needs. The Mexican -- well, for example, on the subject of
temporary workers, President Fox has a plan that revolves around
circularity, of establishing a system whereby workers in the most
depressed parts of Mexico, central Mexico and southern Mexico, qualify
for temporary working status in the United States; come to the United
States, work, send money home, and acquire skills, go back to Mexico
and contribute to the economic development of Mexico. That,
in turn, requires infrastructure in those areas in Mexico so the
Mexican economy takes off.
All of this has been taken into
consideration and I would recommend that you pay close attention to the
joint communique, which will be issued on Thursday, that will deal with
some of these matters.
Q So we're likely
to see something that takes care of the temporary worker or guest
worker program in the United States, but that does not include anything
having to do with legalization, which is what Minister Castaneda at
first said it was supposed to be the whole enchilada and not
OFFICIAL: You will see everything on the table, with one
exception, which is blanket amnesty.
Q But what's the
difference between being on the table and something that there is going
to be in agreement to move forward -- will there be an agreement to
move forward on one piece of this as opposed to waiting for there to be
a whole package?
OFFICIAL: A lot of work is being done. There's a
lot of consultation. This is being looked at not as an
entire package at this point; it's being looked at in pieces.
Q The February
declaration, does -- this says, we are instructing our governments to
engage in negotiations aimed at achieving short- and long-term
agreements. How soon do you anticipate a short-term
agreement on non-migration will be possible?
OFFICIAL: There's a process going on.
Q Is that the four
to six-year time line that --
OFFICIAL: I would be loathe to get into any time projection
on this. There's a process going on. It is a
complex process. It involves consultations with Mexico; it
involves consultations with the Congress; it involves consultations
within the United States. So this is a complex process, and
the important thing is that there is a framework for the
process. The process moves forward, with a great deal of
energy and a great deal of definition.
Q Is it still
possible to get a short-term agreement, as the declaration envisions?
OFFICIAL: It is possible to move this subject forward, as
has been the case and as will be reported to the two Presidents in the
joint Cabinet meeting which will take place tomorrow.
Q On the energy
issue, has there been any advances in terms of getting with the
Mexicans to allow a greater -- in their energy sector, whether it be
petroleum or petrol chemicals?
OFFICIAL: Energy -- that's an internal Mexican decision, to
be sure, what they do with regard to their own internal energy
resources. But the thing to keep in mind is that there has
been -- there will be a report tomorrow by the two Energy Ministers on
the energy side, and I would wait until that report comes out to
address that response.
I will say this: there has been
progress. There has been progress in the energy sector.
Q Is that where the
work is headed? Is that what --
OFFICIAL: There is progress in joint efforts in the energy
sector. Mexican decisions about energy resources are
sovereign for Mexico.
Q Can I just ask
you one question -- I mean, I know you don't want to get into time
lines, but the four-to-six year prognostication that President Fox laid
down obviously gets you to beyond the first term of the Bush
administration and it begs the question as to whether the
administration has abandoned the goal of achieving such an agreement in
its first term.
OFFICIAL: I would refer you to what comes out of the state
visit. The meetings tomorrow -- and there are two of them --
the declarations of the two Presidents on Thursday, and the joint
communique, all of this will be addressed there.
Q Has President Fox
made a mistake by stating those dates, given the nearness of the
OFFICIAL: There is a process going on, and it's a very
energetic process. It's a process that has definition; it's
a process that has developed principles; it has developed a framework,
and we are moving ahead with it.
Q So the Bush
administration is comfortable with that four-to-six-year estimation by
President Fox? Since you're not willing to dispute it, are
you comfortable with it? Is that acceptable to you?
OFFICIAL: I would suggest very strongly that you wait and
see what the two Presidents have to say and you see the joint
communique that comes out the day after tomorrow.
Q Whose idea was it
to cut those agencies from 17 to seven?
Q I'm sorry, I was
trying to ask a question. Let me finish one, okay?
Was there one tangible agreement tomorrow
of any kind on any immigration subject -- just one agreement do you
think will be announced, at any level, following up on his question?
OFFICIAL: What you will see a focus on is framework and
Q But no
OFFICIAL: You will see agreement on principles and
Q Whose idea, sir,
was it, to reduce the 17 agencies to seven? Did that come
from your side?
OFFICIAL: They didn't reduce in number. It's to
make the management of those committees more meaningful, more modern --
Q It says 17
OFFICIAL: Oh, 17 still do exist, indeed.
Q But for the
purposes of this summit.
OFFICIAL: For the purposes of this state visit and future
Q Sir, does the
joint Cabinet meeting set a precedent of any kind?
OFFICIAL: No, it doesn't set a precedent. There have been
previous joint Cabinet meetings. But never has there been a
joint Cabinet meeting that's based on this new executive approach of
pulling in the binational commissions to report to the
Presidents. In the past, the binational commissions all
reported to their respective Secretaries of State, and very frankly, it
got into a bureaucratic rut.
Q A full Cabinet
meeting, a full U.S. Cabinet and a full Mexican Cabinet, or just those
officials that are part --
OFFICIAL: No, just the seven on each side, yes.
Q Does the dinner
that President Fox is having at Blair House, does that set a
OFFICIAL: No, not really. In the past, there have
been reciprocal dinners. What makes this one special is that
it is very small and it is private. And that's what
President and Mrs. Fox wanted to do for President and Mrs.
Bush. It underlines the very strong personal relationship
that exists between these two Presidents.
Q How small is the
dinner? Is it just the four of them?
OFFICIAL: No, no, it's larger than that, but it's --
Q A dozen?
OFFICIAL: Not many more than a dozen.
2:37 P.M. EDT