Calderón Blasts Arizona Immigration Law During White House Visit

Todd J. Gillman, Dallas Morning News, May 19, 2010

Mexican President Felipe Calderón, arriving at the White House for a state visit, wasted no time today criticizing Arizona’s new immigration law as unfair and discriminatory.

The law makes it illegal to be in the United States without permission, and requires police to demand documentation from anyone suspected of doing so. Such a law, Calderón asserted at a Rose Garden news conference with President Barack Obama, will subject Mexican citizens to discrimination and was created so that people who “work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals.”

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Mexico is hoping the White House will initiate a federal court action to prevent enforcement of the law.

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Calderón said: “I know that we [he and Obama] share the interest in promoting dignified, legal and orderly living conditions to all migrant workers. Many of them, despite their significant contribution to the economy and to the society of the United States, still live in the shadows and, occasionally, as in Arizona, they even face discrimination.”

Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, took Calderón to task for criticizing the Arizona law, even as illegal border crossings persist.

“Mexican government officials openly talk of a Mexican government boycott of Arizona but make no effort to prevent their citizens from going there,” Smith said. {snip}

Improving the immigration system is not only possible, it’s vital, Calderón said on the South Lawn before a private Oval Office meeting with Obama, followed by a joint news conference in the Rose Garden.

“We can do so with a community that will promote a dignified life and an orderly way for both our countries,” Calderón said, adding in English: “Can we overcome these challenges? Can we build that future of prosperity we want for our people? Yes, we can, if we work together.”

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By some estimates, one-tenth of Mexico’s population resides in the United States without permission.

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The Arizona controversy is intertwined with border policy and a lingering debate over immigration reform. This year’s volatile electorate has made it hard to see a breakthrough in that area, which has eluded Congress for years.

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More than 23,000 Mexicans have been killed in three years of drug wars. That includes traffickers, law enforcement officers, soldiers and innocents.

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