WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the former chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today made the following statement regarding Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit to Washington and meeting with President Barack Obama:

“The U.S.–Mexico partnership is stronger than ever, and I’m pleased that President Obama’s first meeting with a foreign leader in 2015 will be with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Today, our economies are tied together more closely than ever before. Mexico is the second-largest destination for U.S.exports and the third-largest source of imports. In 2013, Mexico was the eighth-largest market for exports from my home state of New York with $2.2 billion of goods exported from New York to Mexico. We must continue to strengthen the economic ties between our two countries.

“At the same time, both countries must redouble our efforts to improve security in Mexico where more than 18,000 people have died in organized-crime-related killings over the past two years. In the United States, this means stopping the illegal flow of firearms into Mexico and reducing the enormous U.S. demand for illicit drugs. It also means enforcing our anti-money-laundering laws and cracking down on U.S. banks that turn a blind eye to money laundering. The tragic disappearance of 43 university students in Iguala in September showed that much remains to be done to reduce violence in Mexico, particularly at the state and local levels. Congress and the Obama Administration must support President Peña Nieto in professionalizing state and local police forces, improving the country’s justice system and rooting out corruption at every level once and for all.”