Mexican President Urges U.S. to Ban Assault Rifles, Overhaul Immigration Policy

Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2010

Mexican President Felipe Calderon implored a joint session of Congress on Thursday to ban assault weapons that are showing up in his country in great numbers, and he also denounced Arizona’s strict new immigration law.

Winding up a two-day visit to Washington, Calderon said that his security forces were seizing tens of thousands of powerful guns that they have traced to the United States.

Calderon said the U.S. needed to “regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way.”

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Mexican officials have long wanted the United States to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons. But in a visit to Mexico City last year, President Obama said reviving the ban that lapsed in 2004 would be tough to accomplish politically.

Calderon acknowledged the difficulty.

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Keeping a frenetic schedule Thursday, Calderon placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, hosted a lunch with business and opinion leaders, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and met privately with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Repeating a message from his news conference with Obama the day before, Calderon said that Arizona’s immigration law is bad policy.

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Calderon said the law “introduces a terrible idea: using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.” He also urged quick action on an immigration overhaul–a proposal that is languishing in Congress.

The Mexican leader said that “what we need today is to fix a broken and inefficient system.”

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