By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- OBAMA SAYS IMMIGRATION REFORM IS CRITICAL TO TRADE: President Obama arrived in Mexico City yesterday, where the economy and trade were intended to top the agenda of his three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, notes ABC’s MARY BRUCE. With Congress poised to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, however, border security and immigration reform are overshadowing much of the public discussion. “I’m optimistic about us getting this done because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve seen leaders from both parties indicate that now’s the time to get comprehensive immigration reform done,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. “If we’re going to get that done, now’s the time to do it.” Obama argued that reforming the U.S. immigration system is an economic imperative and, given the amount of trade between the U.S. and its southern neighbor, that it’s important for the countries not to get bogged down with border issues. http://abcn.ws/133Ct2R
- ON THE AGENDA: Today, at 10:15 am ET, President Obama delivers remarks at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. Later, he travels to San Jose, Costa Rica. After a series of closed-door meetings, Obama and Costa Rican President Chinchilla hold a joint press conference at 7:15 pm ET. Obama spends the night in San Jose, Costa Rica.
- ONE NIGHT ONLY — SOUTH CAROLINA BECOMES 2016 CENTRAL: Tonight, a two-mile stretch in Columbia, S.C., will turn into a 2016 speculation zone when two potential presidential contenders – Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas – take the stage at major gatherings for each of their parties this evening, reports ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. Biden is set to speak at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner and will attend Rep. Jim Clyburn’s “World Famous Fish Fry,” an event that could easily provide material for the vice president’s “Being Biden” audio series. Just two miles down the road from the Democratic fundraiser, Cruz will address the South Carolina GOP’s Silver Elephant Dinner, an annual Republican gathering that just last year was headlined by another possible 2016-er – Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. http://abcn.ws/106U70v
- THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett discusses the state of the economy, Sunday on “This Week.” And the “This Week” powerhouse roundtable tackles the first 100 days of President Obama’s second term plus all the week’s politics, with political odd couple James Carville and Mary Matalin, Heritage Foundation president and former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts. Plus, in this week’s Sunday Spotlight, Whoopi Goldberg discusses her new documentary on comedian Moms Mabley. See the “This Week” page for full guest listings. Tune in Sunday: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: They’ve broken through a few times. But the recess week that’s now coming to an end appears more likely to go down as a missed opportunity than the start of something big for gun-control advocates. Their big chance to reach lawmakers back home had scattered successes, but nothing close to the emotional town halls that became famous during the health care summer of 2009. And as Politico points out today, Organizing for Action mostly whiffed in attempts to pressure lawmakers who voted against background checks, with a critical shortage of volunteers willing to make the case in selected states. Now attention turns to the other side of the debate, with Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck joining NRA leaders at the group’s annual convention today in Houston. One problem for gun-control advocates? There’s still nothing – not the Brady campaign, not the Bloomberg or Gabby Giffords groups, not the Newtown families – that’s showed itself capable of producing the organizing muscle this push will take. http://politi.co/111f8kL
ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ: Whether they’ll admit it or not, Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex.’s, face time with “First in the South” primary voters this weekend could serve as a chance for them to test the waters for a 2016 bid. For the most part, Biden has kept quiet about his 2016 intentions. But his son, Beau Biden, attorney general of Delaware, said in a New York Times interview last month that, “It’s no secret that he’s thinking about this,” adding, “He hasn’t made up his mind.” Cruz also isn’t revealing much about his plans down the line, but his first few wave-making months in the Senate have generated rumblings about his ambitions for a higher post. The National Review reported this week that friends of Cruz say he’s seriously weighing a presidential bid. Cruz, serving his first year in the U.S. Senate, tried to tamp down the speculation ahead of his visit with a post on his Facebook page saying that any inferences about his political intentions are “wild speculation,” and a spokesperson for Cruz said he is attending a major GOP dinner tonight solely to pay tribute to former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who is now head of the Heritage Foundation and is being honored at Friday night’s Republican fete.
ABC’S MATTHEW DOWD: In reflecting on both President Obama’s speech in the aftermath of the Boston bombings and President Bush’s speeches following the horrific attacks on Sept. 11, I have come to understand better the different ways each man conveys their faith and how this reflects on something going on in America today. Both men speak of God and the Bible and faith in many of their speeches and conversations. And both men are self-professed Christians, but for some reason many doubt the faith and commitment of President Obama while never doubting the same of President Bush. Why is that? I think much has to do with how faith is reflected in their lives and practice. President Bush seems primarily religious in outlook, while President Obama seems primarily spiritual. This difference of religious vs. spiritual between the two presidents represents a tension that has emerged in the faith and political environment of America. On one side is a growing group of devout religious folks who see traditional and definitive roles of family and faith as under attack and in need of defending. On the other side is a fast growing group of unaffiliated faith folks who, while still believing in God or some universal presence, see tradition and certain religions as holding back progress of society. http://abcn.ws/1360ZPY
WHAT WE’RE READING
“THE IMMIGRATION REFORM OPPORTUNITY,” a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “Since my colleagues and I introduced immigration legislation, intense public scrutiny has helped identify shortcomings and unintended consequences that need to be addressed. Many concerned citizens have gone a step further and offered specific ideas to improve it. This kind of constructive criticism is a positive force that should always be welcomed in the political process. … Of course, there are those who will never support immigration reform no matter what changes we make. Even if we address every concern they raise, they will likely come up with new ones. They have a long list of complaints but typically never offer a solution of their own. There are also far-left activist groups that see citizenship for illegal immigrants as a “civil right” and will push to water down border security and enforcement measures that are critical to reform’s long-term success. These groups view immigration reform as something that should quickly legalize as many people as possible. That idea—which is manifest throughout the current administration—has done more to poison the well of immigration reform than anything that restrictionist groups could ever manage on their own. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of Americans understand that the status quo on immigration is unacceptable.” http://on.wsj.com/134MwVv
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
GOP OPPO GROUP GETS A TUMBLR. America Rising, the new GOP super PAC meant to be the Republican answer to the Democratic opposition research group, American Bridge 21st Century, launched a Tumblr today where, according to an official with the group, “you’ll be able to find all the latest research, rapid response, and other fun goodies from the America Rising team. This will be our home until we launch the full website.” The Tumblr is already chock full of quick hits like this one: “Three Sleaziest McAuliffe Political $ Moments,” aimed at Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. America Rising is headed by Mitt Romney’s former campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, as well as former RNC spokesman Tim Miller and former RNC research director Joe Pounder. http://americarising.tumblr.com/
FORMER CHIEF GITMO PROSECUTOR: PRESIDENT OBAMA MUST CLOSE THE PRISON. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor in Guantanamo Bay military commissions, is renewing his call for President Obama to close the prison, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD writes. “Fiscally, it makes no sense. From a legal perspective, the thread’s getting thin,” Davis, a former Air Force colonel, told ABC News in a phone interview Thursday. “If you look at the cases that have been generated out of Guantanamo … it’s made bad law. We haven’t had any good law come out of Guantanamo. It’s just been a black eye legally.” Davis resigned his post in October 2007, disputing that evidence obtained through waterboarding should be admitted in the commission proceedings. Before resigning, he penned an op-ed in The New York Times saying Guantanamo conditions weren’t as bad as they were made out to be, but he has since said that Guantanamo’s prison should be closed entirely. Asked about Guantanamo at his press conference this week, President Obama maintained that it should be closed. The president ordered its closure upon taking office in 2009, but resistance from Congress has gotten in the way. “It would have to be a solid ‘F’ at this point,” Davis said, when asked to grade Obama’s effort at closing the prison. “I think he was genuine and sincere in 2007 and 2009.” http://abcn.ws/11GKIPN
HARSH ECONOMIC REALITIES FORCE MANY MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS TO SELF-DEPORT. The cobblestone streets of El Cargadero, Mexico, are eerily empty. The houses in this small northern Mexican town are bolted shut, the windows boarded, their residents living and working across the border in the United States, reports ABC’s JIM AVILA, MARY BRUCE AND STEPHANIE SMITH. “I would say that two thirds of the people from here, they reside in Southern California,” Joaquin Fernandez, an El Cargadero resident who lives in California most of the year, told ABC News. But that is changing. After desperately and dangerously crossing the border for work in the U.S., many Mexican immigrants now find the land from which they fled holds more opportunity and economic promise. “When the economy [in the U.S.] started going down, it was hard, especially my work,” Erika Felix said. “It was just so much stress and my parents tell me, ‘Why don’t you come back and continue education here?’ So I did.” Self-deportation is a trend not often mentioned in the debate over immigration reform. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, since 2005 migration between the U.S. and Mexico has been net zero. Roughly 1.4 million Mexicans came into and out of the United States during that time. After living undocumented in the U.S. for nine years, Felix decided to move home to El Cargadero. “I heard some people say we’re even better here in Mexico, and I think so, too,” she said. http://abcn.ws/12vZmsa
AYOTTE’S GUN VOTE FOLLOWS HER TO N.H. TOWN HALL. Sen. Kelly Ayotte ticked through a Power Point presentation at a town meeting yesterday, delivering an update on the federal budget, the challenges of implementing the health care law and on the slow-to-recovery economy. It seemed like a typical afternoon civics discussion if Gilles Rousseau hadn’t driven here from Connecticut and taken a seat in the front row, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports from New Hampshire. He clutched a folder carrying the death certificate of his daughter, Lauren, a first-grade teacher killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “It says she died of multiple gunshot wounds,” he said in an interview, pausing to compose himself, apologizing for his tears. Rousseau said he had one burning question for the senator: Why did you vote against expanding background checks? He never got the chance to ask. He was not called upon during the hour long town meeting. Some residents held signs outside before the meeting, saying only New Hampshire voters should speak. When another man rose to ask Ayotte to explain why she voted against expanding background checks, several people in the audience of more than 250 people applauded. “I know people have strong feelings about this issue,” Ayotte began. She said she voted against the bipartisan compromise on background checks last month because she believed gun owners would face an undue burden and she feared it could lead to a federal gun registry. http://abcn.ws/13PNIej
NOTED: Sen. Ayotte declined interview requests, but when asked by ABC News whether she believed her vote was being mischaracterized, she paused and said, “Yes,” before being spirited away by aides.
HILLARY CLINTON OR NOT, EMILY’S LIST READY FOR ‘MADAM PRESIDENT’. Hillary Clinton said she put millions of cracks in the glass ceiling with her 2008 bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The women’s group Emily’s List launched a “Madam President” campaign Thursday to make sure that glass ceiling is shattered in 2016, regardless of whether Clinton runs or not, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. The presidential primaries won’t get fully underway for more than a year, but Emily’s List, which is known for backing female Democratic candidates that support abortion rights, said they will get an early start and head to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. They plan to hold town halls to engage voters there to get ready for a woman on the campaign trail and the Oval Office, as well as using the energy and resources of their two million members. They are also launching a six-figure digital buy to reach women online. Is the launch just to prepare for Hilary Clinton’s eventual entry into the race? Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock acknowledged the elephant in the room almost immediately: “I have to say there is one name that seems to be getting mentioned more than others. We do not know if Hillary is going to run, but we are hopeful that she may.” http://abcn.ws/15cdTRd
OBAMA BACKS ‘PLAN B’ PILL FOR TEEN GIRLS. President Obama said on Thursday that he supports the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to allow the sale of the “Plan B” emergency contraception pill to women 15 years and older, a decision many women’s rights groups say doesn’t go far enough, reports ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP. “The rule that’s been put forward by the FDA, Secretary [of Health and Human Services Kathleen] Sebelius has reviewed, she’s comfortable with it, I’m comfortable with it,” Obama said at a press conference during a state visit to Mexico. “The current ruling… you could phrase it as they’re allowing contraceptives to be sold over the counter for 15 year olds and over. It has not resolved the question of girls younger than 15.” “I’m very comfortable with the decision that is being made right now based on solid scientific evidence for girls 15 and older,” Obama added. Obama did not reiterate the position he took in 2011 which opposed the sale of emergency contraception to girls as young as 10. http://abcn.ws/153QFfy
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
FORMER SENATOR SAYS WHITE HOUSE SUPPRESSING EVIDENCE OF ALIENS. Even as most Americans wonder what planet politicians are from, is it possible that the government is squelching evidence of extraterrestrials visiting Earth? One former presidential hopeful says yes – and that the conspiracy goes all the way to the top. Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) says the White House has helped keep the truth about the “extraterrestrial influence that is investigating our planet” from the public. “It goes right to the White House, and of course, once the White House takes a position, ‘well there’s nothing going on’…it just goes down the chain of command, everyone stands toe,” Gravel tells Top Line. Gravel is one of six former congress representatives who were paid $20,000 by the UFO advocacy group Paradigm Research to participate in a Congressional-style Citizen Hearing on Disclosure in Washington this week, where witness after witness has presented first-hand accounts of UFO sightings and extraterrestrial visits. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/YiZ6Pk
@jaketapper: BLS: U.S. economy adds 165K jobs in April. Unemployment rate 7.5%
@morningmoneyben: Wage gains are still terrible, up 4 cents to $23.87. Over year, average hourly earnings up 45 cents, or 1.9%
@rachelweinerwp: RNC on jobs report: “Some good news for a lucky few who found jobs –but not nearly enough”