Mexican President has Harsh Words for Arizona Immigration Law28 May 2010
When Mexican President Felipe Calderón was in Washington for a state visit on May 19, 2010, he had some harsh words for the now-infamous Arizona immigration law, known at S.B. 1070, and he was not shy about venting his outrage as the cameras rolled during a joint press availability with President Obama. (See Remarks by President Obama and President Calderón of Mexico at Joint Press Availability, The White House, 19.May.2010.) Speaking through an interpreter, President Calderón said:
“In Mexico, we are and will continue being respectful of the internal policies of the United States and its legitimate right to establish in accordance to its Constitution whatever laws it approves. But we will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals. And we oppose firmly the S.B. 1070 Arizona law given in fair principles that are partial and discriminatory.”
Asked about President Calderón’s statement, President Obama said he thought “the Arizona law has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion,” and that “a fair reading of the language of the statute indicates that it gives the possibility of individuals who are deemed suspicious of being illegal immigrants from being harassed or arrested. And the judgments that are going to be made in applying this law are troublesome.” So troublesome, in fact, that the President has directed the Justice Department to carefully examine the Arizona law to see “whether it comports both with our core values and existing legal standards, as well as the fact that the federal government is ultimately the one charged with immigration policy.”
President Obama went on to acknowledge the frustration that led Arizona politicians to such desperate measures, but also pointed out that his administration has put more resources on the border to secure it from illegal immigration – action that actually has decreased the incidence of illegal immigration, contrary to popular belief in the southwestern border states.
The only solution, said President Obama, is comprehensive immigration reform, one that recognizes the responsibility of government to secure the border, the responsibility of businesses to follow existing immigration law, and the responsibility of illegal immigrants to pay a fine and back taxes, and to learn English if they wish to become lawful citizens of the United States. To get CIR, the President said, he will need to have at least some Republican support, noting, “…the American people – including the people of Arizona – are going to prefer that the federal government takes responsibility and does what it’s supposed to do.”
President Obama said it was his job to work with Congress on CIR and to work with President Calderón and the Mexican government to resolve the immigration issues along our southern border. If recent trends are any indication, President Obama may well find that it’s easier to work with his colleagues across the border than to get cooperation from his colleagues across the aisle.