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Former president visits Fresno, speaks to students

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Feather editor-in-chiefs Mariana Fikse, ’18, Samuel Cross, ’19, and Alexander Rurik, ’19, pose with former Mexican president Vicente Fox at the SJV Town Hall event, Oct. 18.

Former president of Mexico, Vincente Fox, presented at the 81st annual San Joaquin Valley Town Hall at the William Saroyan Theater in downtown Fresno, Oct. 19. Fox spoke on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Mexican-American relationship and the issue over the ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As a part of the Fresno County’s SJV Town Hall merit scholar student program, three Feather editors along with approximately 100 other scholars, were given the opportunity and speak and ask questions to President Fox.

Fox served as the 55th president of Mexico from Dec. 1, 2000, to Nov. 30, 2006. Before his presidency, he served the Mexican state of Guanajuato as governor from 1995 to 1999. Many historians agree the Fox administration allowed Mexico little growth and would not be labeled a success, but Fox will remain an influential leader as he left office with a high approval rating.

Since his time in office, President Fox has continued to remain active in the political world. He is an advocate for education, openness in the international community and legalization of drugs. Additionally, he has emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s most outspoken critics.

During his presentation, Fox spoke about his family’s history of being a migrant family. His grandfather was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and migrated to Mexico where Fox was born. According to Fox, his family roots can be traced back 400 years to Ireland where his father’s ancestors migrated to Strasbourg and eventually North America. His mother’s ancestors came to North America from Spain.

“Hundreds and thousands of Europeans inspired came also, looking for a better future,” Fox said. “So migration is a very special task, so special that all of you here except there might be one Native American, all of you come from migrant parents. Your families come from somewhere. Africa, Europe, Asia and that’s what does makes this nation great. It’s been great since the very beginning.”

This nation is the leader of the world and cannot abandon its leadership. It cannot because if it happens, that empty space of leadership will be filled by someone else and I know who that somebody else is; it’s China. Strong economy. Strong values behind. It’s the east civilization, but we cannot let the western civilization just fade away. So the United States has a huge responsibility to stay as leader of the free world, to stay as leader of our humane world, to stay as leader of a world that respects human rights and we hope that leadership will be back. — Vicente Fox

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a governmental program that allows undocumented immigrants to legally hold a job, apply for and receive a driver’s license and enroll in schools. When asked about DACA and the Trump administration’s recent repeal of the program, Fox stated that human dignity was more important than legality or grounded institutions.

During the open mic session when students could ask questions, Feather editor Sam Cross, ‘19, explored the subject of how high school students, documented and undocumented, would be affected by the rescinding of DACA.

“At the very end, it doesn’t have to do with legality,” Fox said. “Legality is important, but a human being’s dignity is much more important than legality. There is always a way to find legality. There is always a way to change legalist structures or constitutions, but human dignity cannot change or be violated.”

Fox continued by stating Mexico would welcome anyone affected by the recent rescinding of DACA. According to President Fox, Mexico is at full employment and the country needs leaders and talented workers to build a great nation.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Vicente Fox speaks to high school merit scholars in an open mic session before his presentation, Oct. 18.

He believes the United States carries the responsibility of maintaining its position as a global leader to preserve western civilization.

“This nation is the leader of the world and cannot abandon its leadership,” Fox said. “It cannot because if it happens, that empty space of leadership will be filled by someone else and I know who that somebody else is; it’s China. Strong economy. Strong values behind. It’s the east civilization, but we cannot let the western civilization just fade away. So the United States has a huge responsibility to stay as leader of the free world, to stay as leader of our humane world, to stay as leader of a world that respects human rights and we hope that leadership will be back.”

Feather editor Mariana Fikse, ‘18, inquired about how teenagers can improve relations between Mexico and the United States. President Fox commented on how President Trump may impede on the relationship between U.S. and Mexico.

“By getting that guy (President Donald Trump) out of the White House,” Fox said, “That would improve the relationship. We had before this disruptor came in, the best ever, the peak, the summit relationship between Mexico, United States and Canada. So we went from being neighbors and we decided to be friends. And now 25 years ago, we decided to be partners. That’s a great step forward. That partnership has been extremely fruitful for NAFTA.”

“On the Mexican side because income for families moved from a gap of one to 10 meaning that if you would make one dollar on the Mexican side by learning how to swim or learning how to jump walls you would be making $10,” Fox continued. “Who in this world would not be lured by that powerful incentive of doing better for your family? Moving from an income of one to an income of ten. So it’s an economic issue.”

According to Fox, the 10 to one difference 25 years ago, has been reduced to five to one today. 

“So the gap has been reduced,” Fox said. “You notice that the trend of migration has reversed now. Many more Mexicans, specifically Mexicans, are coming back to Mexico than those coming into the United States. So NAFTA is helping very strongly to solve our relationship and our situation.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Editor-in-chief Samuel Cross, ’19, asks Vicente Fox a question regarding DACA during an open mic session, Oct. 18.

“¿But donde tú United States? Many claim that it has no benefit to the United States coming from NAFTA,” Fox continued. “Just take a look at Ford Motor Company, Chrysler and General Motors. Five years ago, they were broke and taxpayers had to rescue them out of bankruptcy.”

Fox continued to say that the American taxpayers saved the companies from bankruptcy, and the companies returned to the marketplace as NAFTA corporations. The companies were supplemented by the competitiveness of the Mexican, Canadian and U.S. economy. 

“Now they are very successful companies making profits and creating jobs,” Fox said. “And creating jobs in the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. So the only way this economy, U.S. economy, can be competitive, can remain competitive is by the NAFTA agreement.”

President Fox concluded his speech by challenging the audience to respect the processes set in place 25 years ago. President George W. Bush along with two U.S. senators helped President Fox create bill during his presidency which helps address the issues between the two nations.

The bill currently rests with Congress and apparently, according to Fox, it has not been acted upon. While the bill needs updates, Fox believes it will provide a blueprint for future interaction between the two countries.

For more Town Hall articles, read Lisa Genova educates Fresno audience during SJV Town Hall. For another article, check out COLUMN: Calvin Crest counselors muse over 2nd-year experience.

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