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Posted at 5:43 PM ET, 01/26/2011

El Salvador readies talking points for Obama visit

By Mary Beth Sheridan

Salvadoran officials expect to talk to President Obama about efforts to keep Mexico's drug violence from spilling into Central America when the U.S. leader visits next month, a top minister said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez said immigration will also be on the agenda -- especially El Salvador's efforts to create social programs and jobs at home so residents don't feel they need to move to the United States.

Obama announced in his State of the Union speech that he will travel to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in March.

El Salvador's president, Mauricio Funes, presented a $900 million Central American anti-drug trafficking plan to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last fall, and asked for greater U.S. assistance. The U.S. government is expected to participate in a donors' conference in June to help raise money for security efforts in the region.

"We have a lot of agreement with the Obama administration on the focus on security, not only on the national level, but regional," Martinez said. He said his government wanted to combine a crackdown on crime with social programs aimed at keeping poor residents from getting into illegal activities.

The Obama administration has become increasingly concerned about the threat posed to Central America by Mexico's powerful drug gangs. Under the Merida Initiative, the U.S. government has committed to spending $258 million in Central America over the past three years to fight drug trafficking.

Martinez said the Salvadran government wanted to increase investment in migrants' home towns to keep them from leaving. About one in every five Salvadorans lives in the United States.

"We want to ask President Obama for a partnership in this process of innovation, of development, of seeking to keep our population in their hometowns, offering them alternatives" to migration, he said.

By Mary Beth Sheridan  | January 26, 2011; 5:43 PM ET
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Somewhere around 17% of this country's
GNP comes from remittances from the United States. In the main, residents of this country from El Salvador are here on Temporary Protected Status Visas. One aspect of immigration that tends to get ignored in the whole immigration debate is the whole question of TPS. To date, for all practical purposes the granting of TPS was granting a permanent visa to people from a whole host of countries and there is a move afoot to expand the nations whose citizens we grant TPS to. In point of fact, there is only one instance where the TPS status was ended. This article fails to mention TPS or in the importance of remittances from this country to the economy of El Salvador or the efforts of this nation's government to convince this nation to extent the TPS program for its citizens. It me this is a serious omission.

Posted by: jeffreed | January 27, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Why the hell is Otraitor going to El Salvador? How about he keep his scrawny behind here and do his job? I know I must be dreaming right?

Posted by: harley2002 | January 27, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

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