On a visit to Mexico, first lady Michelle Obama said today that in despite recent drug-related violence along the U.S. border, Mexico is still a safe country for Americans to travel with their families and said she hopes to bring her daughters south of the border for a visit.
"Our embassies are not discouraging American visitors. I think that they are encouraging them to be aware and to be smart as they travel," she said in an interview with ABC News today. "I think that's good advice anywhere in the world, you have to be smart, conscientious, particularly young people who are taking their spring breaks and their minds are elsewhere."
"I would encourage any American to spend time here," she said.
Drugs and drug-related violence was not part of the public message on this two-day trip, her first solo trip abroad as first lady, and the issue did not come up in her remarks to students at Universidad Iberoameriana, meant to inspire young people to take a leadership role in their communities. Obama told ABC News that she and Mexico's first lady, Margarita Zavala discussed the issues of drug treatment and early prevention programs when they met privately for 45 minutes this morning at Los Pinos, the official residence of Mexico's president.
Obama said that the U.S. government is "working closely" with their Mexican counterparts to figure out how to address this issue, but she acknowledged that there is more that can be done by both governments.
"I think our governments are working well together. The problem isn't solved. So until the problem is solved there's more that we both can do," she said.
Obama said that immigration reform is a "very important topic" that the president wants to address, but the effort cannot be made only on one end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
"It's [got] to take both members of Congress [and President Obama] to make a comprehensive immigration reform happen," she said. "It's going to take more than the president to get it done."
Asked to switch gears to the personal side of their time in the White House, the first lady said that she has not seen changes in her husband since he took office.
"He has always been someone who is drawn to challenges, really tough difficult challenges," she said. "I think that's where he gets his energy and where he finds his value as a human being – working on really tough things."
The first lady said that in her view, her husband has always taken on tough issues.
"I tease him, I tell him 'When are you going to press the easy button? And make a decision that isn't so hard?'" she said. "But I don't think that will ever happen but I think that is why he's such a good president – because it suits his personality. His intellectual gifts are very unique for a president."
Her husband credits his daily ritual of reading 10 letters a day from average Americans with keeping him grounded. Asked what works for her, Obama said her two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
"I still have to live in their world. There's still soccer games, parent-teacher conferences and things that you have to do as a mother to keep the kids sane," she said.
Rattling off a list of everyday things that she does with her daughters – trips, activities, sleepovers – the first lady admitted they don't have the same effect as say a routine trip to the store.