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Vicente Fox Warns Against "Building Walls"

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At least he had a Civil War story.

At a private dinner before he spoke to the Richmond Forum last week, former president of Mexico Vicente Fox revealed that his grandfather, Joseph Louis Fuchs, was born in Cincinnati the day Abraham Lincoln was shot. He sought his own (North) American dream, he said, and immigrated to Mexico.

"Oh, come on in then," one dinner guest muttered to his wife.

Fox told the crowd in the ballroom of the Omni Hotel Nov. 3 that he considered immigrants "real heroes -- people that I love, people that are role models to me." Then he urged the guests to enjoy the rest of their roast beef and buttered carrots.

"Bon appetit," he said, rejoining his table with Michel Zajur, president of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Zajur's wife, Lisa.

The crowd sipped coffee and nibbled pastries until it was time to board the half-dozen motor coaches bound for Fox's lecture at the Landmark Theater. Inside, local salsa band Son Quatro set a festive tone. If anyone found it strange that salsa music, which is more closely associated with Cuba or Puerto Rico, was the choice for entertainment, no one made a fuss.

After a singer performed the national anthems of Mexico and the United States, Fox took the podium. He spoke about the benefits of entering more North American trade agreements, the need for a guest-worker program in this country and the threat of growing economies in China and India that could upend America's global dominance.

"For me it is extremely difficult to understand this great nation building a wall," he said, referring to the 80-some miles of federally enforced barriers along the country's southern border. "The real threat to the United States is not immigrants," he said. "It's building walls to the rest of the world." The audience applauded.



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