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Fox pushes U.S.-Mexico trade

But angry immigrants shout down California Gov. Davis

SANTA ANA, Calif. — In keeping with his theme of linking Mexico and California economically and socially, Mexican President Vicente Fox opened a new trade center on the final day of his two-day tour.

The Mexico Trade Center is the first in the country connecting small companies from Mexico and California by providing services and information about legal matters, tax issues and business-culture differences involved in trade.

Fox was making his first visit to the United States since his inauguration in December. He left California for Mexico late Thursday.

He told a crowd of several thousand people about growing up in Mexico and sharing toys with less fortunate children.

"Fifty-eight years later, they are still my friends," Fox said. "There's a big difference between them and myself. I had the opportunity to go to school, the opportunity to have a job, the opportunity to make a living."

Gov. Gray Davis accompanied Fox to the event but was shouted down by protesters when he tried to speak.

The protesters carried signs saying, "Gov. Davis, I want my driver's license" — a reference to immigrants who want the right to apply for a driver's license while seeking residency status.

Fox started his day in Fresno, where nearly 3,000 people turned out to hear him pledge to push Mexico's congress to allow people to vote outside the country by the 2003 legislative elections. He also said he would work with U.S. officials on a solution to long-standing disputes over immigration and to make it easier for expatriates to return home.

Fox campaigned in California last May and views expatriates as a source of financial and moral support for his right-of-center National Action Party and its legislative agenda.