Obama careful on immigration in State of the Union, lawmakers say

January 29, 2014

obamaLA Times, 1/28/14

President Obama urged Congress in his State of the Union  speech to “fix our broken immigration system,” saying both political parties stood to gain by helping millions of undocumented immigrants get a legal foothold in America. “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades,” he said. “And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.”
But Obama, aware that House Republicans won’t appreciate any hectoring from him, didn’t set out any legislative markers, including requiring a pathway to legal status and ultimately citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.

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Dems Tell Obama: Pause Deportation If You Want Congress To Act

December 6, 2013

International Business Times, 12/5/2013

immigration marchMore than two dozen Democrats on Thursday sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling on him to help restart the immigration reform debate in Congress by suspending deportation. They also asked the nation’s chief executive to go a step further and expand “deferred action,” a program that would grant these immigrants reprieve.

The lawmakers’ formal request to the president came more than a week after he was heckled at a California event by an immigrant who asked that Obama use his executive power to protect immigrants from the laws under what they describe as a broken system.

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Obama, in S.F., hails Batkid, pushes immigration reform

November 27, 2013

San Francisco Chronicle, 11/25/2013

ObamaPresident Obama issued an impassioned call Monday for Congress to pass immigration reform during a visit to San Francisco that – in true city-by-the-bay fashion – included everything from a nod to Batkid to an exchange with a protester who pleaded with him to halt all immigrant deportations.

Obama’s frank conversation with the protester came during an invitation-only address before 400 people at a Chinatown recreation center. Later, at a sold-out fundraiser at the SFJazz Center, the president again found himself in conversation with a shouting audience member who urged him to bypass congressional Republicans and use executive orders to accomplish major reforms.

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Obama: House has votes to pass immigration reform

November 6, 2013

CBS News, 11/5/2013

Barack_Obama_being_briefed_on_swine_flu_oubreak_4-29In a meeting with business leaders to discuss immigration reform, President Obama predicted that there are enough votes in the House to pass the contentious issue.

“Although right now there’s been some resistance from House Republicans, what’s been encouraging is that there are a number of House Republicans who have said we think this is the right thing to do as well,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday at the White House. “It’s my estimation that we actually have the votes to get comprehensive immigration reform done in the House right now. The politics are challenging for [Speaker Boehner] and others, and we want to make it as easy for them as possible. This is not an issue where we’re looking for a political win, this is one where we’re looking for a substantive win for the U.S. economy and the American people and the businesses that are represented here.”

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Obama softens tone on immigration reform

October 25, 2013

Los Angeles Times, 10/25/2013

Barack Obama speaking about swine flu

After months of insisting the House should take up the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in June, President Obama changed tactics Thursday and said he might consider GOP proposals to overhaul separate parts of the immigration system.

The White House is hoping that public anger at the 16-day government shutdown has so badly damaged the GOP that House Republican leaders will consider immigration reform as a way to improve their popularity with moderate voters. Obama’s aides also are intent on showing the president is willing to compromise, partly to counter GOP charges that he was inflexible during the bitter shutdown standoff.

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The Approval of the Education Reform, Teachers’ protests and NSA Spying of Enrique Peña Nieto – Weekly News Summary: September 6

September 6, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week the press largely covered the approval of the Education Reform in the midst of the teachers’ protests. Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a reform of the notoriously dysfunctional public school system early Wednesday, handing President Enrique Pena Nieto an important victory in his push to remake some of his country’s worst-run institutions.

The New York Times noted that despite being considered a major step toward instituting evaluations of public schoolteachers and ending their practice of buying and inheriting their posts, analysts allege violent protests by teachers had led Congress to include provisions in the new legislation that might undermine the overhaul. The pressure resulted in concessions that “diluted key aspects” of the original plan like the provision that mandatory evaluations would remain confidential.

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Obama promises NSA spy probe, says Mexican leader Pena Nieto

September 6, 2013

BBC, 9/6/2013

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoUS President Barack Obama has promised to investigate allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on his Mexican and Brazilian counterparts, Mexico’s leader has told the BBC.


President Enrique Pena Nieto said if the claims were true, Mr Obama had pledged to impose suitable penalties. The allegations were made by a journalist who obtained secret files from fugitive US leaker Edward Snowden. Brazil said if proven they were an unacceptable violation of sovereignty.

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A Strategy to Reduce Gun Trafficking and Violence in the Americas

July 29, 2013

Guns by Flickr user barjackPolicy Innovation Memorandum No. 36

Council on Foreign Relations

The flow of high-powered weaponry from the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean exacerbates soaring rates of gun-related violence in the region and undermines U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere. Though the Senate rejected measures to expand background checks on firearms sales, reinstate a federal assault-weapons ban, and make straw purchasing a federal crime, the Obama administration can still take executive action to reduce the availability and trafficking of assault weapons and ammunition in the Americas.

Given the political complexity of legislative action to reduce arms trafficking, Latin American governments have moved to disarm criminal networks by tightening their own gun codes: Mexico prohibits the sale of handguns with calibers greater than .38 and Colombia bans civilians from carrying firearms in Medellin and Bogota. Brazil, Mexico, and El Salvador have implemented gun buyback programs.

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In Mexico Visit, Obama to Pivot From Security to Economy

May 1, 2013

obamaThe Wall Street Journal, 4/30/13

President Barack Obama will seek to spotlight Mexico’s recent economic strides during a visit there this week, part of a broader push by both nations to move beyond common concerns over drugs and crime. “A lot of the focus is going to be on economics,” Mr. Obama told a news conference on Tuesday. “We’ve spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border.”

The two-day trip—Mr. Obama’s fourth to Mexico as president—comes amid momentous changes for both countries. In the U.S., Congress is debating how to overhaul its immigration system, an effort that, if successful, could eliminate a long-standing source of friction between the two countries.

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Will tensions over security spoil the Obama-Peña Nieto Summit?

April 17, 2013

obama_nieto_featureAULA Blog, 4/16/13

The meeting in December between recently re-elected President Barack Obama and President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto was marked by cordiality and a desire to talk about anything but the often grisly drug-related violence in Mexico during the previous six years.  Since then, Peña Nieto has continued the changed emphasis, aided by headlines pivoting to positive stories.  Mexico has been recently hailed for its economic growth, particularly in export-oriented manufacturing, and for a series of political compromises that The Washington Post favorably compared with the U.S. Congressional stalemate.

Despite optimistic claims from the government, Mexican media reports indicate that drug-related violence continues at nearly the same pace as last year.  (Click here for a summary and analysis by our colleagues at InSight Crime.)  Moreover, pressure is growing on questions of human rights violations committed in the name of the war on drugs.  When Presidents Peña Nieto and Obama meet again in early May, holding back a renewed focus on security is likely to be a challenge.

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