The White House announced on Wednesday that U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Mexico and Costa Rica in the first week of May to “reinforce the deep cultural, familial and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America.” Among other issues, Obama plans to discuss immigration, citizen security and economic development.
Obama has not visited Mexico since Enrique Peña Nieto assumed the Mexican presidency on December 1, 2012; the president’s last visit to the country was to participate in the G20 summit in Los Cabos in June 2012. This trip presents an opportunity for Obama to continue the work he started with Mexico’s previous administration, particularly on border security issues. According to a statement from Obama on Wednesday, “There’s so much more to the relationship—in terms of commerce, in terms of trade, in terms of energy. And so we want to highlight some of the close cooperation that’s already been taking place and to continue to build on that, so that we’re creating more jobs and more opportunity on both sides of the border.”
In Costa Rica, Obama will meet with President Laura Chinchilla and other leaders of the Central American Integration System (SICA)—over which Costa Rica currently presides—to discuss collective efforts to promote economic development in Central America and collaborate on citizen security. This will be the first visit to Costa Rica by a sitting U.S. president since Bill Clinton’s visit in 1997.
Immigration reform is a top issue for Mexico and Central America. The Senate Gang of Eight is expected to share a draft immigration reform bill in early April, with the expectation that a bill could be passed by the end of the summer. Read AS/COA’s Get the Fact series for more on immigrants and the U.S. economy.