Mexican President Felipe Calderon seized the opportunity to blast Arizona’s controversial immigration law on Wednesday after President Obama welcomed him to the White House.
Arizona’s law, which takes effect in July, will call for state and local police to determine if people are in the country illegally.
At the start of Wednesday’s state visit to Washington, Calderon said the law discriminated against Mexicans and called for the two countries to work together to develop an immigration policy that did not force people to live in the shadows “with such laws as the Arizona law, which is forcing our people to face discrimination.”
Calderon, whose remarks were translated from Spanish, said “We can do so if we create a safer border — a border that will unite us instead of dividing us.
“We can do so with a community that will promote a dignified life in an orderly way for both our countries, who are some of them still living here in the shadows,” he said. “If we are divided we cannot overcome these problems. We can only do this if we actually face our mutual problems.”
Sprinkling in a bit of Spanish, Obama went to great lengths to greet Calderon, who is fighting an escalating, bloody battle against drug cartels in his country and facing pressure to get results on immigration reform. Around the White House grounds, Mexican and U.S. flags waved together, while cheering school children and military in their finest dress uniforms gathered on the South Lawn to embrace the pageantry.
“I say to you and to the Mexican people: Let us stand together,” Obama said in a South Lawn ceremony heralding the start of Calderon’s visit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.