Christie to travel to Mexico next month

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will travel to Mexico next month, his office announced Thursday.

Foreign trips are a common precursor to a presidential run, and Christie is a likely 2016 contender. He has been traveling within the United States as head of the Republican Governors Association, including a high-profile visit last month to Iowa, home of the first presidential nominating contest.

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The trip, from Sept. 3 to 5, is Christie's first foreign journey of his second term as governor. He traveled to Israel in 2012. 

Christie's office said in a press release that his goal is to "promote increased trade, economic growth and job creation between New Jersey and Mexico."

The governor will meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as business leaders.

The trip was first reported by The New York Times.

Christie's office said he will also be meeting everyday people.

"Governor Christie has expressed heavy interest in experiencing Mexican culture first hand and community interaction is expected to be a component of the visit, in addition to building economic relations," the press release said.

A Republican National Committee report after the 2012 election stressed the need for the party to improve its standing with Hispanic voters. 

Christie received 51 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2013 reelection, according to exit polls. In December, he signed a bill extending the benefit of in-state tuition to some people who are in the country illegally. 

He has also weighed in on the surge of unaccompanied children from Central America illegally crossing the U.S. border with Mexico. In Iowa last month, he expressed openness to possibly housing some of the children in New Jersey while they await immigration hearings.

"We'll take every request that comes based on its merits and make those decisions," he said.

He said "we are an empathetic people in this country" but that the Obama administration has done "an awful job in securing the border." 

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