Former Mexican President speaks about immigration and NAFTA


Emily Berch/Iowa State Daily

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox delivers a lecture on the state of U.S.-Mexico relations Thursday, April 18 at Stephens Auditorium. “Mexico — we’re the best in the world, and we don’t deserve what we’re receiving from the leader of this nation,” Fox said. 

Mike Brown

A former Mexican President spoke to members of the Iowa State and Ames community about immigration and U.S.-Mexico relations.

Vicente Fox, who served as president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, spoke at 8 p.m. Thursday in Stephens Auditorium.

Fox said, oftentimes, immigration is driven by developing economies, and it can be a nation’s greatest asset.

“Migration used to be the greatest asset that any nation could have, and today, it seems to have become discredited,” Fox said, “Today nobody is recognizing the power, the capacity, the commitment, the effort, of migrants coming to different nations.”

Immigration is economically driven, Fox said, and when countries are economically successful people will immigrate with the goal of seeking a better life and working hard to achieve it.

NAFTA, Fox said, has been instrumental for both the United States’ and Mexico’s economy. Fox said American businesses like Ford would not be as successful as they currently are if they would not have been able to relocate to Mexico.

NAFTA also influenced migration, Fox said, with immigration rates from Mexico to the U.S. making a downward shift. Now, more people return to Mexico from the U.S. than immigrate, Fox said.

On the topic of leadership, Fox said it was important to lead with a good cause, and that an important part of leading was being open to immigration, unity and collaboration between nations. Fox said isolationist rhetoric and policy, like the Trump administration’s border wall, are not effective policy.

Fox encouraged Latinx immigrants in the United States under the Trump administration to take action and stand up for their causes.

Aylin Raymundo, a junior in psychology and criminal justice, said she attended the lecture because of conversations she had with other members of the Latinx Student Leader council.

“There was a lot of talk of how [Fox] was coming to Iowa State and how it didn’t represent us, and the controversy of what he did when he was president was brought up,” Raymundo said.

Prior to Fox’s lecture at Iowa State, a petition started by Latinx Immigrants for Iowa spoke against Vicente Fox’s lecture at Iowa State, citing allegations of human rights abuses that took place during his administration.

While Raymundo said she did not think Fox’s invitation to lecture at Iowa State was an intentional misrepresentation of the local Latinx community, and she believed the lecture was booked with positive intentions, she said there could be future improvements for lectures.

“I feel like in the future, asking that specific community how they feel if they were to bring this, I feel like it would be more effective, and getting someone else who is Latino or Latina or Latinx in general would benefit Iowa State University as a whole just to make it more diverse,” Raymundo said.

The lecture also featured a question and answer segment, in which attendees were able to text in responses, and a selection of the submitted questions were read to Fox. Lucy Dougherty, student co-chair for lectures and senior in economics and political science, said this was standard for larger lectures that take place in the Stephens Auditorium.