Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins her first trip to Mexico today and Heritage scholars Ray Walser, James Roberts, and Jena Baker McNeill preview what Clinton needs to accomplish:

Secretary Clinton needs to demonstrate to President Felipe Calderon and the Mexican people that the U.S. approaches the Mexican drug cartel crisis with a seriousness and commitment commensurate with the efforts and sacrifices made by America’s southern neighbor. Secretary Clinton must also convey the executive branch’s intention to reverse the decision on the NAFTA pilot trucking program in order to avoid an ugly and very costly trade dispute with Mexico. Finally, Secretary Clinton needs to inform her Mexican hosts that a secure border is not antithetical to good U.S.-Mexican relations.

They conclude:

Clinton has an opportunity to make progress on each of these three issues. If she can also build on the cooperation begun by the Bush Administration, demonstrate that the Obama Administration will make concerted efforts to rein in a runaway Congress, and, finally, reassure the American people that Administration views border security and Mexico’s stability as national security priorities, her visit to Mexico will be a success.