For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 6, 2001
Remarks by President George Bush
And President Vicente Fox of Mexico
the South Lawn
12:30 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you very much. The
President and I are about to get on Marine One, and then Air Force One,
and fly to Toledo, Ohio. I look forward to a joint
appearance in the heartland of America. We're going to have a great
day in Toledo.
We had a great day here yesterday as
well. Not only did we have a successful state dinner last
night, but we had a series of meetings that confirmed our close
relationship and built on our trust. As I said, Mexico is an
incredibly important part of the United States' foreign
policy. It is our most important relationship, because
Mexico is our neighbor, and neighbors must work
together. And we do.
We're confronting a series of
opportunities and issues. Over the past hours, we discussed
the importance of NAFTA, not only between Canada and Mexico and the
United States, but free trade throughout the hemisphere.
We discussed a variety of issues that
relate to trade. Trucking is an issue about which we had a
long discussion. Mexican trucks ought to be moving in the
United States; I call upon Congress to take that provision out of the
appropriations bill, otherwise I will veto the bill.
We talked about some commodity issues that
we have faced. We had an issue on avocados, for
example. For those of you avocado lovers, you'll be pleased
to hear that we've solved that problem, and I believe the President is
pleased with the progress we're making.
When we trade as much as we do, there are
going to be issues that inevitably arise. And we will deal
with those with mutual respect and honest discourse.
Secondly, I'm pleased to report that we've
made great progress in cooperation in fighting crime. The
President told me yesterday about some additional criminals who have
been arrested in Mexico. This is a crime-fighting president;
he is dedicated to working with our law enforcement officials to
interdict drugs and guns, and coyotes on the border. And Mr.
President, I appreciate your effort.
Our Congress ought to change the
decertification process that, to me, sends the wrong signal to our
friends to the south. To have an annual certification
process really, I don't think is fair to Mexico, and I think it's
counterproductive, and I hope they change the law on decertification.
And finally, an area that has gained a lot
of interest, because it's an important issue, of course, is the issue
of migration. We've had a lot of frank discussions on
migration. We share a lot of principles. One,
that we both recognize how important the contribution to our economy
the Mexican workers have made; that we want people treated with
respect; that we both have a mutual and shared responsibility to make
sure our border is safe, and that we enforce the border; that I hope to
come forward with a program that will pass the Congress, that deals
with guest workers with some sense of normalization. And I
would like to do that as soon as possible.
There's obviously a sense of urgency in
the President's message. I hear that sense of urgency, and
my administration is willing to work as hard as we possibly can to get
something done in a constructive fashion.
Mr. President, I think this is a
continuation on the road for trust, respect, and
cooperation. And I want to thank you very much for your
coming here. I appreciate so very much you bringing your
beautiful wife. I look forward to our trip to Toledo, and then our
dinner tonight at the Blair House with the President.
PRESIDENT FOX: Okay, I will not
have much more to add on this summary of what great has been these two
days to us Mexicans, and to us in Mexico. The trust factor, no doubt
that is key. And these two days have been a great
opportunity to advance in our conversations, in our frank speaking --
all of this aimed at increasing that trust
And for the rest, I'm fully recognized and
totally honored on the warm reception we have had, on the opportunity,
extended opportunity, to discuss and dialogue on different issues and
matters with President Bush. And so to me, if I would
describe this, it's a process -- a process that started back in Mexico
in our first formal meeting, a process that has continued on an
everyday basis by our working teams. And this I would call a
station, one first station which has been this state visit to the
United States, where we had the opportunity to review the issues, to
advance on each of the issues, and to keep on the commitment to work
hard for the coming months and the coming years.
So that's totally satisfactory to
us. I really thank the American people for the warm welcome
we have had, and specifically from Mr. Bush and his lovely wife, the
attentions we have had are just something that we -- over-exceeded any
expectations that we would have had.
Q Mr. President,
even with this sense of urgency on immigration, tell me how difficult
it will be to get a deal in the next year. And when you do
give legal status to undocumented immigrants, how will you justify that
action to the millions of Mexicans still waiting in line for legal
entry, and the millions more people who are living in this country now
after plowing through the legal process?
BUSH: Right. Ron, you've just identified one of
the complexities of the migration issue. I explained this to
President Fox, that there are many in our country who are
undocumented. And we want to make sure that their labor is
legal. And so part of the issue is how do we match a willing
employer with a willing employee, to recognize the value of the work,
and to legalize that part of the process? And that's where
we need to think creatively on a guest worker program.
I mean, the truth of the matter is that if
somebody is willing to do jobs others in America aren't willing to do,
we ought to welcome that person to the country, and we ought to make
that a legal part of our economy. We ought not to penalize
an employer who's trying to get a job done who hires somebody who's
willing to do that kind of work.
So that's part of the
complexity. The second half of your question really does
point out another problem that we have to work through. And
that is there are -- one of the things I have told the President is I
am willing to consider ways for a guest worker to earn a green card
status. And yet I fully recognize there are a lot of people who have
stood in line, who have said, I'll abide by the laws of the United
States. And we're trying to work through a formula that will
not penalize the person who's chosen the legal route, and at the same
time recognizes the contribution that the undocumented has made.
That is part of the reason I say this is
an incredibly complex issue. It is complex to the point where my
administration is going to spend a lot of time on resolving that type
of question. But to make matters even more complicated,
we've got to work with the Congress, and we've got to come up with a
solution that Congress can accept.
Now, I fully understand President Fox's
desire for us to expedite our -- to come up with a solution quickly, to
expedite the process. And we're going to do
that. I think one of the useful parts of this visit is for
me to be able to sit down face to face and to talk about why this is a
complex issue within the country. That's precisely part of
Q You don't sound
like you can get it done in four months, though.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, he's
asked that we do it within the year. One thing he will find
is that we will put 100 percent effort into it during the
year. And I hope we can come up with a solution; I want to
accommodate my friend.
He's got a very important role to play,
and that is as a spokesman for Mexican nationals living in this
country, as someone who is deeply concerned about their future, their
lives. And I completely understand that, and I can assure
the President and the people of Mexico, we have heard his
call. He is a strong, forceful leader, and we will do
everything we can to come up with a solution to this complex problem.
Q Mr. President,
along those same lines --
BUSH: Him? Which
Q President Bush,
PRESIDENT BUSH: Here we go
again, six to nothing. (Laughter.)
Q Sir, could you be
more specific as to whether or not, among the set of issues, or the set
of values or principles that you share on immigration, you share
specifically the goal of finishing this negotiation by the end of the
year? And --
PRESIDENT BUSH: I share the
idea of working as hard as we possibly can. Listen, we came
-- the President came to Washington -- I'm sorry to interrupt you.
Q Well, I'm
sorry. I just wanted to say --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Actually, I'm
not sorry to interrupt you. I did it -- it's an old trick
Q I just wanted to
ask you if -- what would the United States want to see in
return. Something --
PRESIDENT BUSH: In return?
Q In return for
this negotiation, and for maybe regularizing a number of Mexican
illegals, Mexican immigrants in the United States.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think
-- first of all, I think that -- I don't think we ought to view this
issue necessarily as a quid pro quo issue. This is an issue
that we must confront regardless of a Mexican response. This
is an employment issue in the United States.
We've got employers who can't find workers
and therefore, then, employ undocumented workers. And under
our law that's illegal. And it seems like to me we ought to
have a direct and honest assessment of reality. But we are getting what
we wanted from Mexico regardless of the details of this particular
issue, and that is strong cooperation. That's all we can
And the President has been very
forward-leaning in working with us on a variety of matters, including
better border enforcement and making sure we find those coyotes who are
gathering illegals or undocumented folks and trying to run them into
our country for profit. I can't think of anything
worse. And yet, this administration and this government and
our governments are cooperating very closely on ferreting out those
people who are willing to prey on innocent hard-working people, and
stop that kind of activity. That's the kind of cooperation
we expect and we're getting.
Q Mr. President,
why are you abandoning the Clinton Administration's attempt to break up
Microsoft? Will this help consumers? And did you sign-off
on this decision?
PRESIDENT BUSH: He's asking
about a legal matter, Mr. President.
During the course of the campaign and
throughout my administration, I have made it abundantly clear that on
issues relating to lawsuits, on-going lawsuits, that I expect the
Justice Department to handle that in a way that -- in a way that brings
honor and thought to the process. I respect and hold our
Attorney General in high esteem and I honor the work he's done. And
I'm going to leave it at that.
Q You're satisfied
with the decision?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I am satisfied
with the fact that John Ashcroft is doing a fine job as the Attorney
Q (Asked in
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in
PRESIDENT BUSH: For those of
you who don't speak Spanish, he said, "President Bush's tax cut came
right at the right time." (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, on
that same rough subject, when you met with Republican leaders this
morning, did you promise them, as they describe it, that no -- that
every dime of Social Security will be protected? Does that
mean you will not sign any bills that even temporarily take from
it? And President Fox is welcome to take a swing at that,
PRESIDENT BUSH: He probably
doesn't want to. I told the Republican leaders, like I told
Mr. Daschle and I will tell Mr. Gephardt tomorrow, we can work together
to avoid dipping into Social Security. I have repeatedly
said the only time to use Social Security money is in times of war,
times of recession, or times of severe emergency. And I mean
that. I mean that.
I think it is best for me to start working
in a cooperative fashion with the members of Congress, start by saying
let's work together to make sure that our budgets don't cause us to dip
into Social Security. And of course I've always got the
ultimate way to make sure we bring fiscal sanity into
Washington. That's what we call a veto, Mr. President.
But rather than come from the negative
perspective, my attitude as we begin the fall session is to say we can
work together, let's do so.
I will repeat to the American people,
there is ample money coming into our government to fund our
priorities. And what we need is fiscal discipline in
Washington, D.C. The tax cut that we passed was a very
important move to make sure our economy begins to gather momentum and
The President knows what I
know: when our economy is ill or slow or not meeting
expectations, it affects our neighborhood. He's getting
blamed for something that's taking place in America, and that's not
fair. And so our tax relief plan is part of an economic
I urge the Congress to pass an energy
package. That's a job creation package. That's
part of economic growth. I urge the Congress to pass trade
promotion authority. If people are interested in growing our
economy, so that there are more jobs available, then they ought to not
only herald the tax relief plan, they ought to be thinking about how to
pass an energy package and a trade promotion authority package as
well. That's important for growth. We ought to be
thinking, in Washington, D.C., how to grow the economy.
Now, I realize, Mr. President, sometimes
there are second-guessers in the political process, and there are some
in Washington who appear to be second-guessing the tax relief
plan. My guess is, is that they probably want to raise
taxes. If they're against relief, the fundamental question
is what they're for. And I suspect, if they're against one
thing, they must be for raising taxes. And my argument to
them is that would hurt the economy.
The best way for us to continue economic
growth is to have a pro-growth plan in place, and have fiscal
discipline in Washington, D.C. I look forward to working
with the members of both parties to insist upon and implement a package
that is fiscally disciplined. And we can do that, and I'm
confident we can do that.
Q (Asked in
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in
Q (Asked in
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in
Q President Fox,
I'd like you to talk about trucking? Trucking? The trucking
PRESIDENT FOX: (Answered in
MR. FLEISCHER: This way, Mr.
Q Thank you.