This is the second in a series begun on Monday, September 7.
Late on Tuesday, September 4, 2001 the President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, arrived in Washington D.C. for a state visit. On Wednesday key members of the US and Mexican cabinets met together.
Significant attention was given to developing a bilateral approach to immigration reform. President Bush cautioned, “This is a complex issue,” he said. “It’s going to take a while to bring all the different interests to the table. But we’ve made good progress so far.”
But — with White House blessing — the Mexican President pressed hard for quick action on immigration. “We must, and we can, reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year, which will allow us before the end of our respective terms to make sure that there are no Mexicans who have not entered this country legally in the United States and that those Mexicans who have come into the country do so with the proper documents,” Fox said. (See more from CNN.)
CNN also reported, “He and Bush also are expected to discuss anti-drug efforts and a shared border-control program.”
On Thursday, September 6 President Fox addressed a joint session of Congress. Included in his remarks:
Take for example our common struggle against the scourge of drugs. It should be clear by now that no government, however powerful, will be able to defeat on its own the forces of transnational organized crime that lie behind drug trafficking. Intense cooperation is required to confront this threat, and trust is certainly a prerequisite of cooperation. This is why, since I took office last year, Mexico has enhanced its cooperation with U.S. authorities. We have arrested key drug kingpins and have extradited drug traffickers wanted by the United States Justice. However, much more needs to be done. Trust will be crucial to enhance intelligence and information-sharing between both governments. We’re committed to becoming a full partner with the United States in the fight against drugs…
That night Lou Dobbs was in the CNN anchor’s chair for Kelly Wallace’s report on the speech and related news:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m willing to consider ways to — for a guest worker to earn green card status. And yet I fully recognize there are a lot of people who’ve stood in line, who’ve 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 recognize the contribution the undocumented has made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Another big issue: conservative critics who believe President Fox’s plan would basically reward those immigrants who broke the law to enter the U.S. No one, Lou, really expecting a big agreement by the end of this year, but everyone believing President Fox’s visit has increased the urgency on an issue Congress and the president likely to focus on in the months ahead.
Lou, back to you.
DOBBS: Kelly, very comforting language used by the president, talking about guest workers, not referring to these people as illegal aliens, but rather undocumented workers. All of this, I presume, designed to soften some of the tension between the two men over the issue and also to, perhaps, assuage the Latino voting public.
WALLACE: Well, certainly — you certainly know, Lou, that right off the bat the administration was very concerned that it was sort of being accused of supporting blanket amnesty for Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. President Bush saying he is against the “A” word.
And so you do see him talking about a guest worker program; maybe finding some middle ground. Allowing more Mexicans to come to the U.S., part of this guest worker program, to work here and, of course, to have some benefits and send that money back to Mexico. It’s a way of some middle ground. Obviously a big political issue that — the fight is just ahead.
Lou, back to you.
Lou did not comment and moved on to the next story, a 200-point plunge in the Dow Jones. But I wonder if this is when Lou Dobbs began to perceive the potential for exploiting the “A word”?
On September 10, 2001 we were actively engaged in seeking innovative bipartisan and bilateral solutions to immigration, drug enforcement, and border issues between the United States and Mexico. Lou Dobbs was not yet pandering for viewers.
Should we repudiate such September 10 thinking?
Almost eight years to the day after President Fox landed in Washington, his successor reported to the Mexican Congress on his intense struggle against murderous drug cartels.
On September 2, 2009, CBS News reported, “‘The past year has been a different year,’ said President Felipe Calderón during his third state of the nation address Wednesday. Different must be a euphemism for horrible. This was bound to be a difficult year to summarize for Mexico’s beleaguered President. In the past year he has been battered with several challenges: the world economic recession, the influenza outbreak, diminishing oil resources, the worst drought the country has seen in years, escalating drug violence, topped by the world’s belief that Mexico is ungovernable.”
Instead of repudiating September 10 thinking, we might mourn the opportunities lost in the years since.