Fox begins visit to the U.S. in Utah |

Fox begins visit to the U.S. in Utah

Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife Marta Sahagun arrive at the Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Fox is visiting Utah to meet with Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. (AP Photo/Deseret Morning News, Michael Brandy) ** NO MAGS, NO SALES **

SALT LAKE CITY – The United States and Mexico need to work together on trade, energy and security issues to improve the quality of life for citizens in both countries, Mexican President Vicente Fox said Tuesday.Fox’s stop in Salt Lake City is the first on a three-day, three-state tour that also includes Washington state and California.In a luncheon speech to about 500 business, civic and religious leaders Fox promoted trade opportunities with the United States.

“The future of North America must guarantee great competitiveness, greater regional security, greater availability of energy, greater trade exchanges and, naturally, a greater well-being for all of its inhabitants,” Fox said.He did not mention immigration issues, although his visit comes as the U.S. Senate considers legislation to strengthen border security, authorize new guest-worker programs and give an eventual chance at citizenship to most of the estimated 12 million people already living illegally in the United States.Later in the day, Fox was scheduled to meet with Mexican immigrants at the Utah Cultural Center and then attend an official dinner at the governor’s mansion.Utah, like many states, is divided on immigration. While Utah’s largest minority population is Hispanic, there also is growing frustration about the wave of illegal immigrants entering the state.

The Minuteman Project, which opposes illegal immigration, is planning protests at the Capitol, where Fox is scheduled to address a special session of the Legislature on Wednesday.”I’d like to see Vicente Fox tell his people to respect the law and come here legally,” said Alex Segura, founder of the Utah Minuteman Project.Fox will have a private meeting with Huntsman on Wednesday. Huntsman supports President Bush’s plan to send as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border and says it’s important for Fox to see firsthand the frustrations Western states feel when it comes to illegal immigrants burdening health care and prison systems.

Fox also is expected to meet with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The majority of Utah residents are Mormon, as is the Legislature and Huntsman. The Mormon church also has a strong presence in Mexico, where in 2004 membership exceeded 1 million.Wednesday afternoon, Fox leaves Utah for Washington state, where he’ll visit farmworker country in the Yakima Valley before moving on to Seattle.On Thursday, Fox is scheduled to address a joint session of the California Legislature and meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It will be Schwarzenegger’s first meeting with Fox since he became governor in 2003. Fox also is expected to meet with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles.

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