PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Saturday was wrapping up a week-long trip to France and Mexico that focused on promoting the state to international business and economic leaders.
The Mexico visit in particular appeared designed to repair relations with the state's southern neighbor that were damaged by former Gov. Jan Brewer's positions on immigration.
After Brewer signed a tough 2010 immigration law, Mexican governors cancelled an annual border governors meeting in Phoenix, and while she later visited Mexico several times, the damage was done.
That is now in the past, Ducey chief of staff Kirk Adams said in a telephone interview from Mexico City on Friday.
"This is more than a reset of the relationship between Arizona and Mexico, this is a leap-frog in that relationship," Adams said.
Ducey left Arizona on June 13 and spent three days at the annual Paris Air Show meeting with aerospace executives in hopes of drawing more aviation companies to the state. He arrived in Mexico City early Wednesday morning.
His schedule there was jam-packed with meetings with executives from major Mexican companies and political figures, including a reception hosted by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim the evening he arrived. The large delegation accompanying Ducey in Mexico included a who's-who of top Arizona business executives.
David Farca, who Ducey appointed to lead the Arizona-Mexico Commission board in March, said the governor met with nearly every top cabinet official in Mexico. He also met with about 15 of the country's top 20 business leaders.
"That has created conversations on building task forces, addressing specifics issues ... that will help our business communities on both sides of the border increase their trade and trade more efficiently," Farca said.
About 250 business and political leaders attended a reception for the Arizona delegation hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Thursday night.
Prior to leaving the state, Ducey issued a proclamation that reiterated his position on drivers licenses for so-called "DREAMers" but hinted at a change in policy. Brewer, like Ducey a Republican, issued an executive order denying those granted deferred deportation under an Obama administration policy from obtaining licenses in 2012. A federal judge in December ordered the state to issue the licenses and they are being issued, but that decision is being appealed by the state.
Ducey's proclamation said he would abide by whatever the courts decide but that he also planned to review Brewer's executive order. He also said he was asking the Legislature to review a 2011 law that blocks state and local agencies from accepting identification cards issued by Mexican consulates.
Ducey campaigned as a tough-on-border issues candidate in the Republican primary last year, promising to send National Guard troops and use satellites to enforce border security. But since taking office, he's not taken any of those steps, instead working to repair the state's reputation on immigration and hot-topic social issues like gay marriage.
He met Slim in April during a visit by the businessman to Phoenix, setting the stage for Wednesday's reception hosted by the mogul.
James Garcia, spokesman for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the proclamation and other Ducey actions to tone down rhetoric are being seen by many as a break from Brewer.
"This is a governor who is determined on some level to try to separate what is obviously a sensitive and controversial issue, immigration, with some of the issues that overlap with immigration," Garcia said Friday. "And I think it's also a governor who is essentially trying to say `I am not the last governor."'
Adams said the frazzled relationship between Arizona and its largest trading partner was not a major part of the talks.