The three governments will move forward in a Security and Prosperity
Partnership of North America, Fox - whose terms ends in December - said
Friday at the end of a two-day meeting with Bush and Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in the Mexican resort of Cancún.

The "partnership" provides a framework for collaboration in areas like
economic competitiveness, technology, education, security, transportation,
the environment, public health, the building of infrastructure, and the
definition of common standards in job promotion, the administration of
justice and border security.

Bush said social justice in the region was more likely to be achieved with a
prosperous society, and that "prosperity has been increased as a result of
the trade between our nations."

And reiterating a concern that has been expressed over and over by his
administration, the U.S. leader added that "we’ve got to make sure we work
hard to secure the borders."

Since 1994, Canada, Mexico and the United States have been joined together
in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

With respect to migration, the thorniest issue between Mexico and the United
States, Fox suggested to the United States at the start of his term in
December 2000 to design a plan for opening the border in the long-term and
for a more orderly migration.

Later, when he was visited by Bush in February 2001, the two spoke of
"inaugurating an era of shared prosperity together," which observers said
would mean a plan for a model of integration similar to that of the European
Union, with its common currency, open borders and common institutions for
the administration of justice and trade.

On that occasion, the presidents also expressed their full support for the
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which was to be created by 2005.

But the FTAA initiative failed to prosper. Nor did the focus of the NAFTA
model of trade integration change.

Moreover, in the last six years, relations between Mexico and the United
States - its main trading partner - have frequently run into rocky ground.

Ties between the two countries cooled off in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001
terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and especially after Mexico
refused to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

In the meeting in Cancún that ended Friday, Fox and Bush once again swapped
praise and repeated, along with Harper, that regional integration must go
beyond NAFTA.

The next summit of the three leaders of North America will take place next
year, when Fox is no longer in office.

His most likely successor, according to the polls, is leftist candidate
Andrés López Obrador, who says that if he wins the Jul. 2 elections, he
will review NAFTA, which he maintains has failed to bring Mexico the
promised benefits.

"Fox is on his way out, and his potential successor says he will renegotiate
NAFTA, while Bush’s standing has sunk, and Harper does not appear to be
overly enthusiastic about integration. In summary, the promises for
integration in a North American community are unlikely to bring results,"

foreign affairs analyst Tomás Vergara told IPS.

In the final stretch of his six-year presidency, Fox has placed his hopes in
helping persuade the United States to reform migration law, in order to
improve the situation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented Mexican
immigrants, said the analyst. But, he added, the president is unlikely to
achieve that goal.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved an immigration bill
that includes mechanisms for eventually legalising more than 10 million
undocumented migrants, and for providing temporary visas to some 400,000
guest workers a year.

The full Senate began to debate the bill on Tuesday. The Judiciary
Committee’s vote on the new bill followed mass marches on an unprecedented
scale in the streets of several U.S. cities.

The Mexican government, meanwhile, claimed that the U.S. immigration reform
is finally moving forward thanks to its own insistence and the proposals it
has set forth over the years.

However, the reform bill must still make it through the full Senate, after
which it will have to be reconciled with a bill passed in December by the
House of Representatives, which would crack down hard on illegal immigration
and expand the walls and fences along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Several U.S. lawmakers warned that final passage of a wide-ranging reform
bill that would respond to the concerns of immigrants was unlikely.

Most of the 40 million immigrants of Latin American origin living in the
United States are from Mexico.

Between 1993 and 2005, around 3,800 Mexicans died in the attempt to make it
across the U.S. border.