How Obama's Mexico trip sends a message back home on immigration, too
President Obama's Mexico trip is emphasizing trade and commerce, but the message being sent back home is also tailored to influence the congressional debate over immigration reform.
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Elected with an overwhelming share of the US Hispanic vote, Mr. Obama has been hemmed in on how hard he can push the immigration issue by the delicate politics of immigration on Capitol Hill, which could make or break the 2014 midterm elections.
But when he meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto or with central American leaders in Costa Rica over the weekend, he will be able to subtly embrace the many American Latinos who will be watching closely.
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The president can simultaneously score foreign policy points by emphasizing the US relationship with Central American nations and strike a chord with audiences back home, said Carl Meacham, director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, at a forum earlier this week.
The trip offers “a lot of visual symbolism that he’s meeting with these different presidents as equals," said Mr. Meachem, who served as a foreign policy staffer to former Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana for many years. "That also sends a pretty strong signal” to Hispanic voters back home.
Moreover, watching a president who twice trounced GOP challengers among Hispanic voters pile up good press in Spanish-language US media could put pressure on a Republican Party that’s cautiously weighing how to proceed on immigration reform, he adds.
“He’s doing the right things to keep on promoting this," said Meachem. "He’s putting a lot of pressure on the GOP to get its act together on this issue, and this is just tightening the screws a little bit more to make them make a decision.”