December 16, 2017
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mexico's Peña Nieto backs Obama immigration reform push

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington.

Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto backed President Barack Obama's planned push for US immigration reform, pledged cooperation on border security and promised efforts to reduce violence in his own country.

Three weeks after winning re-election, Obama held White House talks with Peña Nieto, who is due to take office on Saturday, to begin forging a personal bond and discuss shared challenges that have sometimes created fraught relations between their countries.

Peña Nieto made clear that Mexicans were closely following Obama's plan to tackle a major US domestic issue - fixing America's immigration system. The porous, nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-km) US-Mexican border is the No. 1 crossing point for illegal immigrants entering the United States.

Emboldened by strong support from Hispanic voters in the Nov. 6 US election, Obama said just days later that he planned to move quickly in his second term to address an immigration overhaul, an achievement that eluded him in his first term.

"We fully support your proposals," Peña Nieto told reporters as he began an Oval Office meeting with Obama. "We want to contribute, we really want to participate .... in the betterment and the well-being of so many millions of people who live in your country."

Obama spoke of what he called a "very ambitious reform agenda" put forth by Peña Nieto, who takes power at a time when Mexico is bucking an international economic downturn but is coping with widespread drug gang violence.

"In terms of security, that's another major challenge that we all face. My government is set out to reduce the violence situation in our country," Peña Nieto said through a translator. "I will do everything we can for this."

Outgoing President Felipe Calderón launched a six-year offensive against the drug cartels that led to a spike in violent crime. About 60,000 people have died in drug-related violence during his term.

Peña Nieto's July victory marked the return to power of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) after a 12-year absence. He has said his priority will be to reduce violence and focus on tackling crimes like extortion and kidnapping.

Mindful of US concerns about border security, Pena Nieto told reporters at the White House: "We want our border to be a safe, modern, connected border, a legal border. That's exactly what we've set out to accomplish."

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Tags:  mexico  peña nieto  obama  immigration  reform  us  border  

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