Our Friend?

President Bush must have been worried that if he sounded too serious about securing the border in last week’s nationally televised speech on border security he might hurt Mexico’s feelings. "The United States is not going to militarize the Southern border," Bush insisted. "Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend."

Mexican President Vicente Fox could have been Bush’s ghostwriter. The day before Bush’s speech, Fox had phoned Bush after reading reports that Bush might deploy National Guardsmen on the border. Knight Ridder reported that Bush assured Fox he was planning to use the Guard only for "administrative and logistical backup to the Border Patrol." Fox’s spokesman Ruben Aguilar described the conversation as "one filled with agreement and consensus between the two presidents." The Associated Press reported that Fox told Bush he wanted "comprehensive" immigration reform –Bush’s code word for an amnesty.

The day after Bush’s speech, Fox’s Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez threatened the U.S. "If we see National Guard troops starting to directly participate in detaining people, … we would immediately start filing lawsuits through our consulates," Derbez said. Then Fox told a Mexican radio show that the National Guard deployment was "logical up to a certain point, if we are going to have a resolution through which there will be a way to cross the border, a big door of entry, legal, orderly, for hundreds of thousands of people."

Then Fox issued his own threat: "President Bush knows it and knows it well — President Fox and Mexicans will neither accept more humiliations, nor more abuses, nor more violations of human rights and workers rights," he said.