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Bush, Fox Agree to Ease Some Border Restrictions - 2004-03-07


President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox concluded two days of meetings at Mr. Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas Saturday. The two leaders agreed to implement a system that would facilitate border-crossing for millions of Mexicans.

The two presidents spoke to reporters of the benefits both of their nations have enjoyed because of increased trade and cooperation. President Fox hailed a decision by the United States to soon begin waiving photograph and fingerprint procedures for Mexicans crossing into the United States for visits of less than three days.

He said this is good news for border families and those who work, study and shop in the border region. He said this will facilitate the flow of people across the border, and will bring great benefits, while at the same time maintaining all the necessary security measures.

President Fox said he and Mr. Bush also discussed the U.S. president's immigration proposal, whereby undocumented Mexican workers currently in the United States would be able to seek temporary work permits.

President Bush said this would create a better system for regulating the flow of labor between Mexico and the United States, and protect the rights of workers.

President Bush sadi,"This system will be more humane to workers, who will be protected by labor laws, and be able to establish their identities. It will live up to the highest ideals of free nations."

Asked when such a program might be implemented, President Bush said that will depend on when it is approved by the U.S. Congress. He noted that this is an election year in the United States, making it harder to predict when Congress might act.

President Bush also said he and his Mexican counterpart had discussed joint efforts to support democracy and the rule of law in the western hemisphere. On a day when tens-of-thousands of Venezuelans went to the streets to protest against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Mr. Bush said the United States and Mexico support peaceful, democratic procedures there.

Mr. Bush said,"We will work with the Organization of American States to help ensure the integrity of the presidential recall and referendum process in Venezuela."

President Bush also thanked President Fox for his cooperation to promote the strengthening of democracy in Haiti, which is still in a state of turmoil, following the departure last week of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. U.S. and French troops are currently in Haiti to help maintain order, while a new government takes hold.

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