Mexico City President Vicente Fox said Saturday that all Mexicans working in the United States should be legalized in recognition of their contribution to the U.S. economy.
During his weekly radio address, Fox urged President Bush and the U.S. Congress to approve a plan that would grant guest-worker status and eventually legal residency to 3 million illegal Mexicans.
"I hope that with the backing of President Bush and the good will of the Senate and the American Congress, we can soon accomplish this for 3 million or 4 million Mexicans that are there," he said.
However, the plan would fall short of legalizing all Mexicans living secret lives in the United States a goal Fox said he and Bush should work toward.
"It isn't fair to consider them illegal when they are employed, when they are working productively, when they are generating so much for the American economy," Fox said. "They shouldn't have to walk around like criminals or stay hidden."
Fox's comments came hours after he inaugurated the opening of a clothing factory in Puebla, 65 miles southeast of Mexico City.
The factory is the project of Jaime Lucero, who migrated from Mexico to New York 40 years ago. Lucero returned to his home country to open the first factory under a government program encouraging the creation of businesses in areas with high poverty and migration levels.
During the ceremony, Juan Hernandez, head of Fox's Office for Mexicans Abroad, announced that officials were in the process of creating a trade office in New York, similar to one in Santa Ana, Calif.