Former Mexican president Vicente Fox made it clear during his speech on Sept. 18 that while he does not support “open borders,” he does stand for “compassionate leadership and intelligent, humble governing.”
Fox was the keynote speaker for the kickoff of the ten-year anniversary of the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society lecture series “What In The World Is Going On?” presented by Eugene Applebaum, chair of Community Engagement in the Community Arts Auditorium.
“Immigration is a large part of every aspect of human history,” Applebaum said. “It’s human nature.”
The topic for the first session was “Immigration: The Wall, Trade, Jobs and Deportation.” Before his address, Fox was introduced by Board of Governors member Sandra Hughes O’Brien. He was saluted by the audience in both Spanish and English.
“Mr. Fox has been a farmer, an activist, an entrepreneur and a president, but he has never been anything other than candorous,” O'Brien said, in reference to Fox’s popular YouTube and Facebook videos where he refused to honor Trump’s promise that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall.
Fox spoke to the audience about his experience as a businessman and later as president and about his opinions on leadership, legislation, trade and the future of the world at large. Fox focused on recent issues surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the trials of “Dreamers” and the true meaning of immigration reform.
“All of us here, with the exception of Native Americans, are immigrants in some way,” Fox said. “Immigration is the story of the world. If you learn how to swim, or jump a wall and then make 10 times more than you do now, why wouldn’t you want a better life for your family?”
In his speech, Fox propped up the North American Free Trade Agreement and defended Mexico’s role in the Free Trade Agreement. He also came to the defense of DACA dreamers and the families who brought them to the United States, as well as outlined the steps he would like to take in refining the process.
“There must be compassion in leadership,” Fox said. “It is criminal to separate families. There must be identification, getting to know them, taking stock of the county.”
Fox clarified that he believed in regulated borders and control of those borders by their respective countries, but he also supports humane and understanding solutions to border reform.
“Why build a wall when we can have intelligent conversations about our problems?” Fox said. “Do you know what we could do with all that money? We could end hunger in large parts of the world and educate even more people. Every action has a reaction. If America isolates itself, it will suffer.”
Fox addressed issues of both the United States and Mexico including the drug trade, crime rates and trade issues, but he ended his speech on a positive note for the students and young people in attendance.
“You are joyful and inspirational and always with a smile," Fox said. "You do not need promises from a president to save you. You will make your own world and it will be fantastico.”