PHOENIX - Former Mexican President Vicent Fox is in the Valley to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month and is speaking out about why Arizona and the U.S. need to befriend Mexico.
A guest of the City of Peoria for its Fiesta Peoria, Fox sent a strong message to Arizonans with what some call a "Go Back Home" attitude that there is a benefit in improving U.S.-Mexico trade relations.
"Mexico buys from this nation over $250 billion U.S. dollars every year. That means a lot of jobs, hundreds of thousands, millions of jobs to U.S. American citizens," said Fox.
Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman told reporters states like Texas and California, willing to welcome Mexican citizens, are now benefiting from jobs and trade.
"Texas understands institutively that Mexico is a crucial trading partner, that's why trade in Texas is 10x's the magnitude of Arizona," said Hallman.
When asked about the drug and violence spilling over our borders from Mexico, Fox pointed out that neither the drugs nor weapons are originating from Mexico.
He said weapons being smuggled into his country are coming from the U.S., and where there are guns there is violence.
As for the drugs, the former president adds very little of it is grown or produced in Mexico.
"We just happen to be in between, those that produce the drug in the south, the Venezuelas, the Bolivias the Ecuadors...and those that consume the drugs in this nation."
Fox also commented on Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070, pointing out that while he's not for open borders and understands Arizona's need to control its border, it's not Arizona's place to do so.
"The real solution is in Congress, and we only need the framework, we need to know what the playing ground is."
Fox ended his speech with a dream of a celebration that goes beyond Hispanic Heritage Month.
"I hope we can soon celebrate building bridges, not walls," said Fox.