LOS CABOS, Mexico – Mexico's President Felipe Calderón praised President Barack Obama while at the G20 summit for having the "courage" to limit the deportation of some young undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Calderón thanked Obama on behalf of the Mexican people for what he called a "valuable decision." Obama announced Friday that undocumented immigrants will be able to avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, and graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military.
Calderón called Obama's decision a "humanitarian action."
Obama and Calderón were meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 economic summit.
Other Latin American leaders and organizations reacted to Obama's new policy announcement on Friday.
Some, like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization, praised the President's announcement.
"This country at its best is a place where a young person doesn’t think twice about betting on their success," said National President Margaret Moran in a statement.
While others believe Obama's move was too little, too late for young undocumented immigrants deported before Friday's announcement.
Leaders of the world's largest economies began to assemble Sunday for the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico to discuss the uncertain fate of Europe and the global economy in Calderón's last moment in the international spotlight before July 1 presidential elections.
Recent months have been as bad as any for Mexico's battered international image, with scores of bodies dumped across the country by rival cartels, five journalists killed in the eastern state of Veracruz and a travel warning for Americans in a state on the Texas border to beware retaliation for a recent U.S. operation against the Zetas cartel.
"It's an issue that unfortunately puts Mexico on the world stage for the wrong reasons," Calderón told reporters Saturday.
But he also touted his record, saying Mexico had made fundamental changes for the better on questions of security, part of a legacy that also included improved health care coverage, infrastructure and the hosting of a series of international events including a climate summit, a visit by the pope, and the G20.
Violence in Mexico had been dropping steadily when he took office in 2006 then spiked during his stepped up offensive on Mexico's drug cartels. Since then more than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence.