Washington (CNN) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed two of America's most contentious political issues during a speech to the U.S. Congress Thursday, asking for a return of the assault weapons ban and blasting Arizona's controversial new immigration law as a "terrible" endorsement of racial profiling.
Calderon also reminded Americans of their role in the recent eruption of drug-fueled violence along the U.S.-Mexican border, noting the high demand for illegal drugs in the United States. At the same time, he highlighted a series of economic reforms undertaken by his administration, arguing that they are helping to position Mexico for a period of greater growth and social stability.
"Mexico and the United States are stronger together than they are apart," he told a joint meeting of Congress. "Our economic ties have made both economies stronger. ... A stronger Mexico means a stronger United States."
Calderon is the second Mexican head of state to address Congress in the past decade, following President Vicente Fox in 2001. His appearance came on the heels of Wednesday's high-profile meeting and state dinner with President Barack Obama at the White House.
The contentious issue of Arizona's immigration law has been a key issue for Calderon during his U.S. visit. The measure, which will allow law enforcement officers to ask for proof of legal residency of anyone who is being investigated for a crime or a possible legal infraction, has drawn widespread criticism in Mexico.
"I strongly disagree" with the measure, Calderon told members of the House and Senate. "It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree," but also introduces the "terrible idea" that racial
profiling is acceptable.
Calderon also had a message for undocumented Mexican migrants currently in the United States: "I want to say to the migrants - all those who are working really hard for this great country - that we admire them, we miss them, (and) we are working hard for their rights ... (and) for their families," he said.
Calderon pointed out that Mexico has created more than 400,000 jobs so far in 2010 - the highest, he claimed, ever generated in a four-month period in his country. He said he is hopeful that an aggressive economic reform agenda - including pension reform and greater infrastructure investment - would eventually persuade more Mexicans to pursue opportunities closer to home.
"I'm not a president who likes to see Mexicans leave our country, leaving for opportunities abroad," he said. "Mexico will one day be a country where our people will find the opportunities that today they look for outside of the country."
Until then, he said, it is the responsibility of both the American and the Mexican governments to repair a "broken, inefficient" immigration system. He called on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law, arguing that it is a crucial component of a more secure border.
Turning to the explosion of drug-related violence, the Mexican leader asserted that his government is working to "firmly establish the rule of law."
It is deploying "the full force of the state" against organized crime, he declared.
"Restoring public security will not be easy and will not be quick. It will take time ... (and) will take human lives as well," he said. But this is "a battle that has to be fought." Drug violence claimed 6,500 lives in Mexico
last year. Officials say that roughly 90 percent of the cocaine that is smuggled into the United States moves through Mexico, which is also a gateway for marijuana and other illegal drugs.
Calderon pointed out that the challenge to Mexican security has "roots on both sides of the border." He cited the high rates of consumption of illegal drugs in the United States, and praised the Obama administration for its recent initiative to lower demand.
He also urged Congress to reimpose the assault weapons ban, asserting that violence in Mexico spiked after the ban was lifted in 2004. Mexican authorities in recent years have seized 45,000 weapons that could be traced to the United States, he said, and there are now roughly 7,000 gun shops along the U.S. border with Mexico where assault weapons can be easily acquired.
Saying he respects the U.S. Constitution and understands "the purpose of the Second Amendment," he added, "believe me - many of these guns are not going to honest American hands."
"Today these weapons are aimed by the criminals ... at Mexican civilians and authorities," he said. "With all due respect, if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way," American authorities and civilians may be soon face a similar challenge.
Yeah, sure. We really need to pay attention to a foreign head of state telling US what to do.
Maybe first Mr. Calderon needs to get the various Mexican Drug Lords and Cartels to give up THEIR weapons.
Any U.S. Congress Representative or Senator who acts on this bozo's suggestion, Democrat or Republican, should be voted out of office come November – no ifs, ands, or buts.
My family comes from Mexico, and relatives have been in the United States longer than there has been a country here. We gave up much, but we became part of the culture. We are proud of our entire heritage. That said, I cannot accept the president of Mexico blaming my country for his shortcomings. Felipe Calderon is a failure in every sense of the word. Not only has he failed to prevent drug and gang violence in Mexico, he has failed to take responsibility for it. In many areas, that violence is destroying an entire generation of youth. If the future of Mexico cannot be protected, what does that say of Calderon's failure not only as a leader, but also as a man? Mexico is a mire of corruption poverty, unemployment, and despair, and whether you want to hear it or not, MEXICANS are to blame. How many illegal weapons move through Mexico to get here in the first place! How is limiting my right to protect myself going to keep criminals from smuggling in weapons? My God, most of the people involved in the drug trade already have records. In this country, in every jurisdiction of which I am aware, people with criminal records must have their rights restored before they can carry a weapon. These CRIMINALS are obtaining weapons in violation of the law ALREADY. How is taking away my right to keep and bear arms going to change that fact? As far as I'm concerned, until I have a reason to once again be proud of the land from which my family came, Felipe Calderon has NO BUSINESS crossing our borders to point the finger at us.
Assault weapons will still be in the hands of criminals, no matter how many laws governments pass.
The solution is simple, no changes need to be made in the laws of either country.
The answer- secure the borders!!!
wow – that's what we need. the president of one of the most corrupt governments in the world and one of the most lawless countries in the world critisizing our country and laws. Maybe we should check his papers while he is here.
Yes, I'm sure when the founding fathers wrote the Constitution and then ammended it with the Bill of Rights they had tank-blasting uber-weapons in mind to be in the hands of every citizen who wanted one.
It is always ironic that the conservative whites who most cling to the right to assault weapons, most militantly oppose immigrants from Mexico, and most cite the wave of drug violence as their 'justification' for these, are also the people who consume the most of said illicit drugs!
Felipe must be a Dem, I want you to give me everyting and I will do nothing for you, thanks fools.
You jknow he can take himself and all the rest of them back home and DO close the door on the way out its past time.
1. Legalize Pot
2. Ban Assault Weapons
Can't he read English. The Constitution clearly states that Americans have the right to buy and use assault rifles. The Founding Fathers specifically discussed automatic weapons and were unanimously decided that they could be carried, and if necessary used, anywhere, anytime. Don't tread on my interpretation of the Constitution, however ridiculous it ist.