President Barack Obama sat down at the White House yesterday to answer questions from Hispanics who had emailed questions to Yahoo Espanol, AOL Latino, MSN Latino or Huff-Post Latino Voices. Two of the questions were pertinent to Mexico. I've put in bold the part of the official transcript that I found interesting:
MS. KARINE MEDINA (MSN LATINO): So the next question comes from California and was asked by Mike: Is there anything the United States can do to strengthen the Mexican economy? Could we form a stronger partnership with Mexico that would result in less illegal immigration and lowered expense of Border Patrol?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it's very important to recognize, as the question recognizes, that if we can strengthen the Mexican economy then people have less incentive to look for work in the United States. We welcome immigration, but obviously a lot of people in Mexico would love to stay home and create businesses and find jobs that allowed them to support their family if they could, but the Mexican economy has not always been able to generate all the jobs that it needs.
This is a long-term challenge. The Mexican economy is very integrated to the world economy and the U.S. economy, so they were affected by the recession very badly themselves. I have a great relationship with President Calderón and we have looked for a whole range of ways that we can improve cross-border trade. For example, we've been focused on how we can change the borders infrastructure so that goods are flowing more easily back and forth.
Ultimately, though, the Mexican economy is going to depend also on changing some of the structures internally to increase productivity, to train the workforce there, so education in Mexico is going to be also very important. Part of what's happened in Mexico is, is that a lot of people have been displaced from the agricultural sector and they've moved to the cities; they don't have the skills necessarily for the higher-skilled jobs that exist in urban areas. And so an education agenda in Mexico is also important, just as it is here in the United States.
But we very much want to work with Mexico around their development agenda because the more they are able to generate industry and businesses in Mexico, to some extent that's probably going to be one of the best solutions for the immigration pressures that we've been seeing over the last decade or so.
MR. JOSE SIADE (Yahoo Espanol): Mr. President, this question comes from Karina in Ohio: Mr. President, what is your strategy to stop the flow of weapons bought with drug money in the U.S. and then sent to Mexico, especially after what happened in Operation Fast and Furious?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is a great challenge, and I’ve been the first one to admit -- I’ve said this publicly in bilateral meetings with President Calderón that there's a two-way street in terms of the problems of transnational drug operations. The Mexican government I think has been very courageous in taking on these cartels, at great cost, obviously, with respect to violence in Mexico. That's the right thing to do.
We have to be a more effective partner in both reducing demand for drugs here in the United States and for stemming the flow of weapons and cash that help to finance and facilitate these cartels. So we're working very hard to have a much more effective interdiction effort of south to north -- or north to south traffic than we have in the past, so we are checking southbound transit to try to capture illegal guns, illegal cash transfers to drug cartels. It is something that we have been building over the last couple of years; it's not yet finished.And there's going to be more work to do.
Part of the issue here, obviously, is budgetary. At a time when the federal government is looking for ways to save money, we're going to have to figure out ways to operate smarter and more effective in our investigations without a huge expansion of resources because those resources aren’t there.