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Immigration and The War on Drugs: President Obama Visits Mexico To Discuss

In 2009 President Obama made his first foreign trip abroad to visit with former Mexican President Calderon. Mr Obama meet this week with Calderon's successor (Photo: Mariano Sanchez).

President Obama visits Mexico Thursday, May 2, to meet with Enrique Peña Nieto. Likely topics include US involvement in Mexico's economic growth, immigration, and the war on drugs.

The relationship between the United States and Mexico’s new government faces uncertainty after years of unprecedented closeness forged by the conflict with Mexican drug cartels. Alfredo Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, tells KRTS's Lorne Matalon that many Mexican's feel "America just got way too involved in Mexico's economy". Continued American support, Corchado says, "raises concerns of what that level of involvement means for the future security cooperation."

Some analysts believe that even if drug trafficking ceased in Mexico (which is dependent on the US demand for illegal narcotics) Mexico would still need an outlet for the criminals that find themselves out of a job.

Corchado echoes this sentiment, saying that, organized crime aside, jobs and the economy in general will be as an important issue in the Presidents' discussions. Corchado sees a rising middle class in Mexico - more cars, more TVs - but wonders what is a middle class in Mexico?
Is it ten dollars a day? I was in Chiapas last week with President Nieto meeting people making less than four dollars a day. Mexico is still remains very much a paradox.

Another take from a member of the Mexican media (who cannot be identified by name for security reasons) tells Matalon, "If you live in a certain colonia, your reality is very different from a couple of blocks away." When asked about how Mexicans deal with that kind of paradox, he replied, "For most people in Mexico, their main problem is how to get food on the table."

In his first foreign visit to Mexico after winning the White House, Obama acknowledges the importance of stability in the Mexican economy:
I'm committed the promoting the kind of bottom up economic growth here in Mexico that will allow people to live out their dream here and as a consequence will relieve some of the pressures that we've seen along the borders.

Four years and a ramped up drug war later, immigration still remains at the top of Mexico's agenda in it's relationship with Washington. Attention to the border is growing in the US too. The Pentagon has just opened a new base for special operation forces at US Northern Command Headquarters in Colorado, which covers Mexico.