The following is a statement by Angela M. Kelley, CAP’s Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy, on today’s bilateral meeting between President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
The relationship between the United States and Mexico is deep and complex, and it’s bound together—not just by a 2,000-mile shared border—but by the nations’ mutual aspirations for their people, their economies, and their security.
In their fourth bilateral meeting, President Barack Obama and Mexico President Felipe Calderon focused on securing the safety of citizens of both countries as Mexico combats drug cartels inside its northern border while the United States steps up efforts to block the flow of illegal weapons and drug trafficking proceeds into Mexico. Included in the United States’ pledge to build a "more modern, secure, and efficient" border are new border crossings and modernizations of older ones. The Center for American Progress applauds the forward movement on the initiatives discussed by both presidents today.
Unfortunately, President Obama did not offer specifics on how he will deliver on his often-stated promise to enact comprehensive immigration reforms that are so vital to both nations.
Arizona’s new immigration law—which could lead to racial profiling and may violate the U.S. Constitution—has created great concern within the Mexican government as well as within the U.S. Latino community. Rightly, President Obama has criticized the Arizona state law, and we expect his administration will swiftly challenge the law in court and administratively.
At the same time, the administration must aggressively pursue congressional support for a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform measure that could go a long way toward calming the American public’s dissatisfaction and anger with the current immigration system. The political difficulties facing the administration are well known, but the president must persevere.
The immigration plan recently released by Senate Democrats deals constructively with the immigration challenges by requiring immigrants without legal status to register and pay taxes, and it enhances immigration enforcement by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants and undermine opportunities for all workers.
Comprehensive immigration reform will also help the U.S. economy by ensuring all workers and employers pay their fair share of taxes. And it will maintain strong relations between the two most important countries in this hemisphere.
Today’s speeches by the presidents of the United States and Mexico are reminiscent of the much-hailed Bush-Fox visit of 2001. Sadly, those talks were derailed by the events of September 11 of that year. Now, almost nine years later, the population without documents has grown larger and the country’s frustration has deepened.
President Obama must heed the concerns of the American public and our neighbors to the south and fix the immigration system before it tears us apart.