March 12, 2009
Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters
are feeling on a day-to-day basis. I think that would be a mistake. I think that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
And so even as we’re working on financial stabilization, reregulating Wall Street, we’re going to keep on pressing to get the investments that will ultimately lead to long-term economic growth.
So — I also have Iraq and Afghanistan to deal with. (Laughter.) But I figured that would at least get us started. So why don’t we just go around the room. I’ll try to make sure that everybody gets a question. Since we’ve got somewhat limited time, I’ll try to keep my answers short, if you guys can keep your questions short.
All right. Michael.
Q Thank you, Mr. President, for having us today. Since we’re only going to get maybe one shot, I want to ask you a question that’s of great concern to the people of my state of New Mexico. And as you’re fully aware, Mexico is besieged by drug-related violence. In my state there’s a very real concern that this violence will spill over to the border; in a few cases, it already has. What specifically does the administration plan to do to help contain this violence? And on a related note, if there’s anything you could say about immigration reform and when we might see some sort of action on that front.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as you know, the first meeting with a foreign leader that I had after my election was with President CalderÃ³n in Mexico, who I believe is really working hard and taking some extraordinary risks under extraordinary pressure to deal with the drug cartels and the corresponding violence that’s erupted along the borders.
So this past week Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited with his counterparts in Mexico. Janet Napolitano, our director of Homeland Security, a border state governor, has been convening meetings with all the relevant agencies and consulted with the governors down there.
We expect to have a full — a fully — or a comprehensive approach to dealing with these issues of border security that will involve supporting CalderÃ³n and his efforts in a partnership; also making sure that we are dealing with the flow of drug money and the guns south, because it’s really a two-way situation there. The drugs are coming north; we’re sending funds and guns south — and as a consequence, these cartels have gained extraordinary power.
And so, our expectation is to have a comprehensive policy in place in the next few months.
With respect to immigration reform, to some degree the collapse of housing construction in the country has slowed the flow of illegal immigrants coming into the country, but it remains a serious concern. And our approach is to do some things administratively to strengthen border security; to fix the legal immigration system, because a lot of the pressure — or a lot of the impetus towards illegal immigration involves a broken legal system — people want to reunify families and they don’t want to wait 10 years.