President Obama blasts Arizona law, wants immigration reform
President Obama criticized Arizona's new immigration law on Wednesday and restated his desire for immigration reform in the US.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
President Barack Obama stepped up his criticism of Arizona's controversial immigration law Wednesday, calling it "misdirected" and warning that it has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion.
The controversy over the Arizona law, which would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally, hung over Calderon's visit. Both leaders oppose the law, with Obama directing the Justice Department to review it for possible civil rights violations, and Calderon's government issuing a travel warning for Arizona, out of concern that Mexicans face an adverse political environment there.
Calderon made good on his pledge to take up the immigration issue during his meetings with Obama. He said the Arizona law criminalized migration and could encourage discrimination. He also called for the U.S. and Mexico to work together to solve the complex, politically sensitive immigration issue.
"We can do so if we create a safer border, a border that will unite us instead of dividing us, uniting our people," Calderon said. "We can do so with a community that will promote a dignified life in an orderly way for both our countries."
Almost twice as many people support the Arizona law as those who oppose it, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll this month. It found that 42 percent favored it, 24 percent opposed it and another 29 percent said they were neutral.
Obama has promised to start work on an immigration overhaul, but he's also warned that Congress may not have the appetite to take on the sensitive issue this year. He pointed out Wednesday that he can't get the 60 votes he would need in the Senate to pass an immigration bill unless some Republicans step forward. That Republican support could be hard to come by for Obama in an election year.
The two leaders spoke during a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden following a private meeting. Obama will host Calderon at a state dinner Wednesday night.