- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2015

Less than two months after granting deportation amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, President Obama will huddle with Mexico’s president Tuesday seeking ways to prevent more migrants from crossing the U.S. border in search of a free pass.

The meeting at the White House with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will focus on Mr. Obama’s immigration action and border security. A senior administration official said Monday the leaders’ agenda will include finding ways “to avoid a renewed surge of migrants this year and to minimize the number of people who undertake this dangerous trip.”

The official said illegal immigrants already in the U.S. who try to aid their relatives in sneaking across the border won’t be eligible for Mr. Obama’s new deportation amnesty.

“Mexican consulates will play a key role in informing Mexican immigrants about who qualifies and who does not qualify for executive actions,” the senior administration official told reporters.

Homeland Security and State Department officials are teaming up on a campaign to dissuade would-be illegal immigrants. Even before Mr. Obama announced his action on Nov. 20, tens of thousands of illegal child immigrants had surged into the U.S. last year, many motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay.

Mexican officials say Mr. Pena will thank Mr. Obama for taking the executive action. Illegal immigrants from Mexico account for two-thirds of those who are eligible for deportation relief under Mr. Obama’s action.

The administration official said the U.S. has made “tremendous progress” in strengthening the border with Mexico, and that Mr. Pena has been an “important partner” in helping to stem the flow of illegal child immigrants last year.

Obama administration officials maintain that the number of illegal immigrants entering the country is at a historic low.

“The last time the number of people attempting to enter the country illegally across our southern border was this low was in the 1970s,” the senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Moreover, this is the first time in 40 years that the size of the unauthorized population living in the United States has stopped growing. President Obama is committed to continuing this progress.”

Due partly to the surge of child immigrants, illegal immigration rose in 2014, marking the latest year of increases. Before that, illegal immigration had been on a downward trend, with the economic slump and stiffening enforcement reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. from 2007 to 2010.

The two leaders are also likely to discuss other security issues, with the embattled Mexican president facing street protests over his handling of the massacre of 43 students who were abducted in September by a drug gang working with corrupt police in the city of Iguala. Drug wars could also be on the agenda.

Human Rights Watch urged Mr. Obama in a letter Monday to press his Mexican counterpart to investigate and prosecute abuses by Mexican security forces. The U.S. has provided Mexico more than $2 billion since 2007 through the Merida Initiative to fight organized crime.

Mexico is facing its worst human rights crisis in years, with security forces committing horrific abuses that are rarely punished,” said Daniel Wilkinson, Americas managing director at Human Rights Watch. “The Pena Nieto administration has so far failed to take this crisis seriously, and President Obama has been unwilling to call them on it.”

The White House said “the two leaders will highlight the importance of expanding dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Mexico on economic, security and social issues, as well as underscoring the deep cultural ties and friendship that exist between our two countries.”

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