Obama Renews Call for Immigration Reform

BY jbreslow  May 19, 2010 at 2:19 PM EDT

President Barack Obama renewed his support for comprehensive immigration reform Wednesday but said he needs help from Republicans in Congress to fix a “broken” system along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Speaking alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderon, in Washington for a state visit, Obama also said a controversial new immigration law in Arizona has the “potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion.”

Under the Arizona law, signed by Governor Jan Brewer in April, police are required to question someone’s immigration status if “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” The president on Wednesday said the measure represents a “misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system.”

Mexico’s Calderon echoed Obama’s appeal for addressing the politically sensitive immigration issue, saying “we can do so if we create a safer border, a border that will unite us instead of dividing us, uniting our people.”

The two leaders also used the joint press conference to address the drug violence that has resulted in some 24,000 deaths since Calderon took office in December 2006.

Calderon has praised President Obama’s efforts to curb drug demand in the United States, but as the Wall Street Journal notes, he has also said there is a “correlation between the increase in drug-related violence in Mexico and the lapsing of the assault weapons ban in the U.S. in 2004.” Mexican authorities have seized some 45,000 assault weapons at the border since Calderon took office, most smuggled from the United States.