MEXICAN President Vicente Fox calls for United States to legalize immigrants, expand their access to education

Tuesday, July 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Mexican President Vicente Fox outlined Tuesday what he wants from a migration agreement between his nation and the United States, including legalization and expanded access to higher education and drivers licenses for all Mexican immigrants.

``Our goal is to legalize migrant flows between our two countries,'' Fox said in a speech at the National Council of La Raza meeting in Milwaukee.

The Mexican president said he wants ``to lend greater security and orderliness to the migrant flows between Mexico and the United States.''

Fox's comments came following news that the Bush administration is weighing a plan to grant amnesty to up to 3 million Mexicans living illegally in the United States.

Fox outlined several points for a potential Mexican-American agreement that would go further than just granting legal status to illegal immigrants.

In addition to that, he also called for:

_expanding the number of U.S. visas given to people on the basis of family ties;

_giving Mexican workers expanded opportunities to obtain work visas, so they can enter the United States safely and legally;

_allowing Mexican workers, regardless of legal status, access to drivers licenses and university educations;

_fueling economic growth in Mexico, thereby reducing the number of people who feel compelled to cross the border.

``We must work hard to create opportunities for our fellow Mexicans to stay,'' Fox said.

Fox got a standing ovation as he entered a packed ballroom and spoke to an audience of about 2,300 people, some of whom waived Mexican flags.

In the past, the Fox administration has been vague on the issue of legalizing immigrants living and working in the United States, said Cecilia Munoz, La Raza's vice president for policy.

``Today he stated very clearly they support it,'' Munoz said. ``The community's very excited about the promise of an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that could include a legalization program.''

On amnesty, Fox said that such a program would ``allow immigrants who work hard, pay taxes and abide by laws to be treated equally and to travel freely.''

Fox's speech was his last big event on a five-day visit to the United States that included appearances in Detroit and Chicago. He is expected to return for a meeting with President Bush in September.