MEXICO CITY – President Vicente Fox (search) will ask U.S. black leaders to support a migration accord, his office said Monday, as part of efforts to ease tensions over comments he made more than a week ago that were branded racist.
The president plans to raise the idea during a meeting with the Rev. Al Sharpton (search) on Monday afternoon, spokesman Ruben Aguilar said.
Fox angered the U.S. government and black Americans on May 13 when he said that Mexican immigrants take jobs "not even" blacks want in the United States.
He defended his commitment to minorities and human rights on Sunday during an interview with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson (search) on a U.S. radio program, in his first public response to his controversial comment.
"I very much regret the misinterpretation," said Fox, touting laws created under his administration that outlaw discrimination and protect minorities.
Sharpton has demanded that Fox apologize when the two meet Monday in Mexico City.
Many Mexicans were at first puzzled by the outcry over Fox's comment, saying the president was justified in his reaction to new U.S. immigration policies that include extending walls along the border and cracking down on illegal migrants.
Frustration has grown in Mexico with the failure of the U.S. government to approve a migration accord widely promoted by President Bush.
"There's a request that the president has already made about the usefulness of having some personalities in the African-American community within the political sphere support the migration law," Aguilar said.
Fox's administration has expressed interest in an immigration bill being put together by Senators John McCain (search) and Edward M. Kennedy (search) that would let illegal immigrants get three-year visas that could be renewed once.