"It is a pleasure for me to come back to this great city this dynamic city. The city of my family. My grandfather was born here. As a kid, I heard a lot about Cincinnati growing up in Mexico. Now being back here is very emotional to me."
This past week, the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted former Mexican President Vincente Fox.
President Fox's great graet grandfather, John Michael Fuchs, immigrated to Cincinnati in the 1830s along with the great influx of German speaking immigrants.
His grandson Joseph who was born in Cincinnati, worked for the carriage maker Emerson & Fischer in the late nineteenth century, and facing the emerging challenge of the automobile, left Cincinnati and the United States for greater opportunity in Mexico.
In an exclusive interview with Local 12's Sasha Rionda, President Fox reflected on the relationship of his family's story and immigration today.
"Then he decided to come down to Mexico, to emigrate, without a penny in his pocket. He was able to sell in Christobel and make his dream. This is the story of the immigrant. This is what the immigrant looks for. He looks for progress for his family, upgrading himself. That is why I love the immigrants, I respect them. They are a special caste. To all Mexican here, to all Hispanics, I tell them that I love them, that they are my heroes, and I will be working with them, hand in hand, all the way for immigration reform
SASHA: You know that is very controversial her in Cincinnati. What is the message that you would want people to know about immigration.
FOX: The information number one is that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding. Immigration is always an asset to any economy and to any nation. This nation is built by immigrants, everyone who looks back will find that he comes from immigrants except the Native Americans. The rest have an immigrant heritage. This economy needs those hard working people to be competitive, to sustain the pension plans, to pick the apples in Washington State, to construct the hospitals the highways, even to construct the wall, which is ironic. A wall that won't work. How much better it would be to use that money to build bridges, bridges of understanding, bridges of love, bridges of trading and bridges of progress. And we can do that if we attend the issue of immigration with responsibility. Immigrants enrich this culture, and immigrants are busy hard working people that make this economy competitive."
I am joined now by Alphonso Cornejo, the President of the Board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cincinnati.
Besides bringing former President Fox to Cincinnati, Mr. Cornejo arranged a first time reunion of about 25 members of the Fox family, including members of the Pape and Eha families, that is now scattered from Cincinnati, to Denver, to Mexico.
And Mary Ann Olding, a local historian who worked on the history of the Fox family in preparation for this wonderful book that was presented to the President and his family at a dinner on Wednesday night.
SASHA: "People here, they think that undocumented people are viewed as criminals. Do you think...
FOX: My grandfather was not a criminal. He came to Mexico crossing borders, crossing deserts and crossing ..... But I =am not for illegality. This I have to make very clear. I am not for illegality, I am not for disorder. I call upon the US Congress and the US government, because it is a federal issue, Take this issue of illegality and construct a framework to make our immigration a win/win situation. We should decide how many workers should be here. Those who have a job should be allowed to stay here. And those who have a job and stay here, should be close to their families. They don't want to become US national. That is a mistake also. They all don't want to stay here, They would rather be at home with their families, in their own land. They would rather be eating tortillas, encheladas, chili, not hamburgers and hot dogs. These people want to work in jobs that are not filled by US nationals.
SASHA: So is Mexico to blame for that, that they want to leave their country?
FOX: Mexico is putting on a great effort. Should the Unites States be blamed for the tens of thousands of citizens that work in Mexico? Should the government of the United States be blamed for the ten of thousands who work in China or India, or work in Spain or in Europe? Immigration is power itself, it is movement, it is energy. It is people willing to work in an economy that is willing to open its arms to them. "