Border Visit by Mexico's Fox Mirrors Bush's Trip

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Mexico's President Vicente Fox makes a surprise visit to the northern border city of Tijuana — on the same day that President Bush visits the nearby southwestern Arizona border city of Yuma. Mexican lawmakers are angered over a U.S. Senate measure to build new border fences. But Fox has not made any public comments about the proposal.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

On the other side of the border, Mexican president Vicente Fox made a hastily arranged visit to Tijuana today. That's the world's busiest international border crossing. Recently President Fox has toned down his criticism of the U.S. proposals to crack down on illegal immigration.

NPR's Carrie Kahn is in Tijuana, where President Fox addressed a rally. And Carrie, what did President Fox have to say?

CARRIE KAHN reporting:

Well, Melissa, I'm in Tijuana's baseball stadium and you might hear everybody's trying to get out. There are a couple thousand people, came to hear the president. They did not hear him come to talk about immigration. They came to hear him talk about Social Security benefits. And it was part of that, part that and part campaign rally.

But he did not mention at all about immigration. He did earlier in the state capitol, he did make some reference to the situation of immigration. He said that he urged the United States to please respect Mexicans, to not look down on Mexicans and to show more respect for their rights and for their right to come and work.

And he also said that walls and National Guardsmen are not going to solve the immigration problem. What will solve it an international accord, an immigration accord.

BLOCK: What kind of pressure is President Fox under to stand up to the Bush administration and its proposals?

KAHN: He is under pressure because this is an election year in Mexico, and while he cannot run again for president, he wants his part to win. And he also wants to seal up his legacy and what did promise when he came into office was that he would get an immigration accord with the United States and he has a few months left to cut that deal. So he has, like you said, toned down his rhetoric a little bit, although his comments this morning were for more national consumption here in Mexico.

BLOCK: NPR's Carrie Kahn speaking with us from Tijuana. Carrie, thanks very much.

KAHN: You're welcome, Melissa.

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