POSTED: Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 10:24am
UPDATED: Friday, May 21, 2010 - 10:15pm
WASHINGTON – Mexican President Felipe Calderon is telling Congress that the fight against narcotics traffickers along the border can only succeed if the United States reduces its demand for illegal drugs.
In the first address to Congress by a foreign national leader this year, Calderon is delivering a message that the two countries must cooperate to improve security along the often-violent border and to control the flow of immigrants into the U.S.
He says the United States must stop the flow of assault weapons and other arms into Mexico.
The Mexican leader found an ally at the White House. President Barack Obama is pressing lawmakers to take up legislation that would deal with border security, employment and citizenship. He faces a harder sell in Congress, where many are leery of taking up the sensitive issue of immigration in an election year.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mexican President Felipe Calderon is taking his case for a fair and orderly overhaul of U.S. immigration policies to the people who can do something about it: members of Congress.
One day after private meetings with President Barack Obama and White House celebrations in his honor, Calderon pivots Thursday to Capitol Hill. He is addressing a joint meeting of Congress, where he is expected to push for immigration changes and emphasize the economic priorities linking the U.S. and Mexico.
Calderon's state visit comes at a time of renewed furor over the flawed immigration system from Mexico into the United States. From border security troubles to questions about how to deal with the millions of illegal migrants living in the U.S., the immigration debate remains politically vexing, frustrating and volatile.
Obama is lobbying lawmakers to get moving on legislation that would seek to deal with the security, employment and citizenship issues all at once. But he concedes he doesn't yet have the Republican support he would need to get such a complex deal done. Whether any progress will happen this year is unclear.
Stoking the matter is a new law approved by Arizona lawmakers and set to take effect July 29 unless derailed by legal challenges. It requires police, in the context of enforcing other laws, to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.
Calderon calls that discriminatory, and Obama agrees the Arizona law could well be applied that way. He has ordered a Justice Department review.
"A prosperous North America that benefits both Americans and Mexicans is only feasible if we work shoulder to shoulder and if we confront these challenges decisively and courageously," Calderon said at the White House on Wednesday, pushing for cooperation on the economy, immigration and security.